Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

St. Etheldredas Church (London)

St. Etheldredas is a Catholic church in Central London.

It is situated in Ely Place, off High Holborn.

St. Etheldredas is probably the oldest Catholic place of worship in Britain. It was built as the private chapel of John de Kirby, Bishop of Ely, in the 13th century, and continued to fulfil this function right up until the Refoprmation.

Ely Place is a most unusual part of London, officially private, whose gateway is still guarded. It was owned by the Bishops of Ely, who had a palace here.

After the Reformation, St. Etheldredas was put to a variety of uses, but was almost always a place of worship, at one time for the Spanish embassy, and at another time for the local Welsh population.

It has now been restored to being a Catholic church.

St. Ethldredas is built on two storeys, with a chapel over an undercroft. There could thus be two services in the Middle Ages, depending on social status.

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott carried out restoration work in 1935.

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