The Most Beautiful Churches and Cathedrals in London

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral | © Garry Knight/Flickr

London has a wide choice of historical buildings that make its landscape an unforgettable one. From the iconic St Paul’s to the majestic steeple of St Leonard’s church in Shoreditch, join us in journeying around London’s most beautiful churches and cathedrals.

St Dunstan's, Stepney Green

Building, Church
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St Dunstan's Church and its huge churchyard
St Dunstan's Church and its huge churchyard | © Zeisterre/WikiCommons
This Anglo-Catholic church dominates the corner between Stepney High Street and Stepney Way, right at the heart of the Tower Hamlets borough. Stunning in its Kentish ragstone external covering, the St Dunstan’s and All Saints has been part of Stepney’s architectural landscape since the 10th century AD. Its the East End’s oldest church and has had a great impact on the local community. The simplicity of its internal decoration, made of plain decorative stone and with two aisles on the side, gives the place a real sense of harmony and peace. The best moment to visit the venue is at the twilight, to enjoy the incredible sight of the building and its huge churchyard. A combination of down lights, shadows and tangled tree branches makes this place a memorable one.

St Paul's Cathedral, the City

Building, Cathedral, Church
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St Paul’s Cathedral is at the heart of the City of London
© Graham Lacdao
There is no need to explain why St Paul’s Cathedral has been included in this list. Memorable, world-famous and iconic – these are adjectives many use to describe Christopher Wren’s most important creation. St Paul’s is a tourist pilgrimage site and its dome has been an ageless feature of the London skyline for over 300 years.

Artists from all over the world have painted and photographed this 111-metre-high building which has played an important part in London’s history. The Duke of Wellington, Horatio Nelson, Florence Nightingale, William Turner and Alexander Fleming are names of just some of those buried in St Paul’s. The same Christopher Wren was the first person to be interred at his death in 1723. Why not step into this iconic building and feel the still reminiscent sighs of London’s glorious past?

Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge

Bridge, Building, Cathedral, Market
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Southwark Cathedral
Southwark Cathedral | © brownpau/Flickr
The Southwark Cathedral is an attraction for all tourists visiting the city, while Londoners have probably glanced at the place whilst devouring delicious food from Borough Market. Well, for all the foodies of London Bridge, this building is worth a visit and could definitely make your day. Go on, add a pinch of culture to your lunch break! The music is an important element for the Southwark Cathedral diocese: the first cathedral’s organ was built in 1897, and today it is still lording over the main nave — completing the young Merbecke Choir concerts. Founded in 2004, the choir sings on the 4th Sunday of each month. If you are in the area this can be a lovely serene Sunday escape.

St Leonard's, Shoreditch

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The St Leonard's Church also known as the Shoreditch Church
The St Leonard's Church also known as the Shoreditch Church | © Fin Fahey/Flickr
George Dance the Elder is the architect who between the years 1736–1740 projected this astonishing building at the threshold of the vibrant Hackney area. Located on the east side of Shoreditch High Street, a few steps away from the Spitalfield markets, the creation of St Leonard’s Church sees once again the fingerprints of British architect Christopher Wren – Dance’s mentor. Dance actually took inspiration for the 58-metre-tall steeple from the St Mary-le-Bow one, built by his own teacher.

The building was open until the 1990s, when it was eventually considered unsafe and closed for nearly two years. Now open again, it is definitely worth a visit as a place that was often frequented by Elizabethan actors and Shakespeare’s friends, as it was located right next the theatre. Today, this place, also mentioned in the famous nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons, is deservedly part of Hackney’s cultural heritage.

Holy Trinity, Sloane Street

Building, Church
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The stained glass over the main wall in the Holy Trinity church
The stained glass over the main wall in the Holy Trinity church | © Loz Pycock/Flickr
An immense stained-glass window welcomes the guests of Holy Trinity Church, an impressive building erected in Sloane Street and designed by John Dando Sedding. The presbyterian wall is the frame of this monumental glass masterpiece by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. Step inside to be amazed by this stunning work of art. Or, if you appreciate religious singing, the Holy Trinity is admired for its reputation singing Anglican church music. Today’s liturgical choral music is performed by the Concordia – a choir whose members mainly come from the BBC Symphony Chorus.

St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside

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St Mary-le-Bow church is based on the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome
St Mary-le-Bow church is based on the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome | © Steve Vidler / Alamy Stock Photo
Local legend says a true Cockney can be recognised from the fact that he was born within earshot of the sound of Bow Bells. In the heart of the Square Mile, St Mary-le-Bow Church dominates Cheapside with its 68-meter steeple projected by (once again) Sir Christopher Wren, after the Great Fire of 1666. The simple frontage – probably commissioned out to one of Wren’s associates, contrasts with the glorious and detailed tower and majestic internal decorations in an exemplary baroque style. The St Mary-le-Bow is the perfect place to find typical baroque features of drama, tension and power, all visible in the pulpit, arcade and the ornate organ. You shouldn’t miss this amazing masterpiece created by this world famous Briton.

Westminster Cathedral, Victoria

Cathedral, Church, Building
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The peculiar red and white striped facing of the Westminster Cathedral
The peculiar red and white striped facing of the Westminster Cathedral | © Jacob Tarrìo/Flickr
Right next to the Victoria tube station is a street called Ashley Place. If you have never been, you may be surprised at what you will find here. The Westminster Cathedral has sometimes been overshadowed by the more famous and older Westminster Abbey, but this neo-Romantic building, which has hints of Byzantine influences, is second-to-none for beauty. A red-and-white-striped facing, dominant oriental domes and the 87-metre-tall campanile make it look like an antique building from Istanbul – a peculiar association for an English church.

Designed in the 1890s by Francis John Bentley and consecrated in 1910, The Westminster Cathedral is a relatively new construction. But a larger surprise awaits you when you enter the building’s interior: the 52-metre-wide central nave makes it the largest in England, with a capacity for more than 1000 seats. This feature, combined with the marble, mosaics and other elaborate decoration, results in a cathedral definitely deserving a visit.

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