Wednesday, 5 January 2022

6. All Hallows by The Tower: December 2021


On a dark Tuesday evening in Advent 2021 I attended the Worshipful Company of Bakers’ Carol Service at All Hallows by The Tower.  I had been invited by Sara from our congregation, herself a Master Baker.

I’ve visited All Hallows on a number of occasions but never for a service. I’m usually there because it’s a church often included in Christian Aid’s Circle the City circuit.  It is impressively placed, lover looking both the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. 

The church was bombed in World War Two and extensively rebuilt afterwards.  Its one time Vicar was Tubby Clayton, the famous war time chaplain and founder of TochH.

It was a delight to be in Sara’s party for the carol service and the evening was shared with two other Companies, those of the Woolmen and Watermen. That thrilled me somewhat as my eight times grandfather was a Waterman in the 1700’s based the other side of the river at Southwalk.  Members of these honourable companies read the lessons, often dressed in their colourful robes.

It was a lovely traditional service and we were blessed to have music provided by the Choral Scholars of The Square Mile Singers.
  This group has been recently formed by Andrew Earis, the Director of Music for St Martin in the Fields.  For many years now St Martin’s has provided bursaries for choral scholars and Dr Earis has now broadened this to provide singers for other city churches including All Hallows and St Stephen’s, Walbrook by The Bank of England.  It is a super idea and is a great gift to these city churches to have the services of such wonderful singers.

The Vicar of All Hallows, Katherine Hedderly gave the warmest of welcomes and led the service beautifully.  I was impressed that she also gave a sermon!  She focussed on the church’s work with refugees from Afghanistan and told us of a forthcoming evening when these folk were due at the vicarage to cook a meal for the community.  It was truly inspiring to hear of this ministry.

Being a church in such a famous context yet without too many resident in the parish must be very challenging, yet I sensed that the Revd Katherine and her team were calm, committed and upbeat.

The evening was a wonderful example of the Church interacting with its community.  Playing host to three of London’s ancient Guilds was just that, touching base with neighbours, offering hospitality, respecting each others’ contribution to society and standing together as a force for good and God in that specific locality.

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