St Peter ad Vincula

Coordinates: 51°30′31″N 0°4′37″W / 51.50861°N 0.07694°W / 51.50861; -0.07694

The Chapel Royal of St. Peter ad Vincula ("St. Peter in chains") is the parish church of the Tower of London. It is situated within the Tower's Inner Ward and dates from 1520. It is a Royal Peculiar. The name refers to St. Peter's imprisonment under Herod Agrippa in Jerusalem. The Chapel is probably best known as the burial place of some of the most famous prisoners executed at the Tower.

History

The existing building was rebuilt for Henry VIII by Sir Richard Cholmondeley in 1519–20, but a chapel stood in its position since before the Norman conquest. At the west end is a short tower, surmounted by a lantern bell-cote, and inside the church is a nave and shorter north aisle, lit by windows with cusped lights but no tracery, a typical Tudor design.

Monuments

The Chapel contains many splendid monuments. In the north-west corner is a memorial to John Holland, Duke of Exeter, a Constable of the Tower who died in 1447. Under the central arcade lies the effigy of Sir Richard Cholmondeley, a Lieutenant of the Tower who died in 1521. In the sanctuary, there is an impressive monument to Sir Richard Blount, who died in 1564, and his son Sir Michael, died in 1610, both Tudor Lieutenants of the Tower, who would have witnessed many of the executions.

There is a fine 17th century organ, decorated with carvings by Grinling Gibbons.

The Chapel is perhaps best known as the burial place of some of the most famous Tower prisoners, including three queens: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, the second and fifth wives of Henry VIII, respectively, and Lady Jane Grey, who reigned for nine days in 1553. George Boleyn, brother of Anne, was also buried here after his execution in 1536, as were Edmund Dudley and Sir Richard Empson, tax collectors for Henry VII, and Guildford Dudley, husband to Lady Jane Grey, in February 1554, after being executed on Tower Green. Thomas More and John Fisher, who incurred the wrath of Henry VIII, were subsequently executed, and later canonised as martyrs by the Roman Catholic Church, are also buried here; Philip Howard, a third saint who suffered under the Tudors, was also buried here for a time before his body was relocated to Arundel.

A list of 'remarkable persons' buried in the chapel between 1534 and 1747 can be seen on a table on the west wall.

The Chapel can be visited as part of a specific tour within the Tower of London.