On the first floor of the White Tower is the exquisite Chapel of St John the Evangelist where the royal family and the court worshipped and where the knights of the Order of the Bath spent their vigil the night before a coronation. It is one of the most perfect specimens of Norman architecture in Great Britain.
The Chapel of St. John the Evangelist at the Tower of London is a historic and unique place of worship that has stood for centuries within the walls of the famous fortress. It is one of the oldest surviving medieval churches in London, dating back to the 11th century, and has been a witness to many significant events throughout English history.
The chapel is located within the walls of the Tower of London, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has served as a royal palace, a fortress, and a prison over the centuries. The chapel is situated on the north side of the White Tower, the central keep of the fortress, and can be accessed through a small door in the wall of the White Tower’s ground floor.
The chapel was originally built as a royal chapel for the Norman conquerors of England in the 11th century. It was constructed in the Romanesque style, which was popular at the time, and was dedicated to St. John the Evangelist. The chapel’s location within the Tower of London meant that it was often used for royal and state occasions, as well as for the worship of the Tower’s garrison and the prisoners held within its walls.
Over the centuries, the chapel has undergone several renovations and modifications, reflecting the changing architectural styles and religious practices of the times. During the reign of Henry III in the 13th century, the chapel was rebuilt in the Gothic style, with new stained glass windows, a carved wooden screen, and other decorative features. Later, during the reign of Henry VIII in the 16th century, the chapel was further renovated and the nave was extended.
Despite these changes, the chapel still retains many of its original features and is considered to be one of the finest surviving examples of Norman and Gothic architecture in London. Its interior is adorned with beautiful stained glass windows, including one depicting St. John the Evangelist, which dates back to the 13th century. The chapel also contains several notable tombs and memorials, including that of Sir Richard Cholmondeley, a former Constable of the Tower, and that of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, who was executed by Henry VIII in 1535.
The chapel has played a significant role in many historic events throughout English history. It was the site of several important coronations, including those of Henry VI and Edward IV, and was also the venue for the marriage of Henry VI to Margaret of Anjou. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the chapel was used to hold religious services for Protestant prisoners held in the Tower.
Today, the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist at the Tower of London is still an active place of worship, holding regular services and events throughout the year. It is also open to visitors as part of the Tower of London’s guided tours, and is a popular destination for tourists and history enthusiasts alike.
Roman influence can also be found in the White Tower’s basement where there is a two-millennium-old well. The White Tower also contains one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world.
In conclusion, the Chapel of St. John the Evangelist at the Tower of London is a remarkable and historic place of worship that has stood for centuries within the walls of the famous fortress. Its rich history, stunning architecture, and significant role in English history make it a must-see destination for anyone visiting London.