This the largest of the city parish churches and it stands prominently opposite the site of Newgate Prison, now the Old Bailey. It is more correctly known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre after the church of the same name in Jerusalem, and was then called ‘St Edmund and the Holy Sepulchre’.
The church was badly damaged during the great fire of 1666, and rebuilt but not apparently by Christopher Wren. It escaped major damage during the bombing of World War Two.
Following a bequest made to St Sepulchre, a bellman was employed to go through a tunnel which connected the church to Newgate Prison on the night before any execution reciting:
“All you that in the condemned hold do lie,
Prepare you, for tomorrow you shall die;
Watch all and pray, the hour is drawing near
That you before the Almighty must appear;
Examine well yourselves, in time repent,
That you may not to eternal flames be sent:
And when St. Sepulchre’s bell tomorrow tolls,
The Lord above have mercy on your souls.
Past twelve o’clock!”
The Musician’s Chapel is evidence of the churches many musical connections and the ashes of Sir Henry Wood lie under the window to St Cecilia, the patron saint of music. The church also has strong regimental connections with the Loos Cross from the First World War in the North Aisle commemorating the City of London Rifles from 1915.
Those known to have been married here:
Henry Reffell and Esther Webb, marriage date: 12 March 1815
Those known to have been buried here:
Joseph Reffell, age: 5y 3m, burial date: 12 November 1820
Henry Reffell, age: 46, burial date: 9 September 1835
Esther Reffell, age: 65, burial date: 30 November 1845