life ON TOWER HILL 10/17


Parish news from All Hallows by the Tower                                 October 2017



Onwards and upwards…

Bertrand marathon medalAfter overcoming leg injuries and a 42 gruelling kilometre (26.2 mile) run, Bertrand our vicar made it through the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on 24 September to complete the Berlin Marathon.

He was running in aid of vital improvements needed to the first floor facilities in the church so we can welcome more community and charity groups.  There’s still time to donate to this excellent cause.

Harvest time

Harvest 2017 rotatedHarvest Festival was celebrated at All Hallows on Sunday 1 October.  Fresh produce was donated after the service to the Manna Day Centre in Southwark, which provides meals and support for the homeless.

The tinned and dried food we collected was given to the Tower Hamlets Foodbank.  It’s not too late to bring your contributions for the Foodbank – you can leave them in the box provided in church.  Items they particularly need at present are:

Tinned Fruit
Mashed Potato
Tinned Vegetarian Meals (e.g. macaroni & cheese/ratatouille)
Juice (long-life)/branded Cordial
Milk (long-life) 1 ltr
Jelly (cubed)
Washing Powder (small/medium size)
Shaving foam
Washing Up liquid

Thank you!

Time to remember

maritime memorial book 2On October 12 All Hallows holds a very special event: the annual Maritime Memorial Book Service, where friends and family gather to remember those who have been lost at sea and have no known grave.  A Memorial Book to record their names,  and, where possible, the circumstances of their deaths, was established here in 1987.

Sadly of course new names are added every year, and are read out during the annual service.  We hold these families in our prayers and hope that having a lasting memorial and focus of remembrance at All Hallows is of comfort to them.

All Hallows treasures: the Caravarca cross


This month we begin a series featuring some of All Hallows’ lesser known treasures.

Over the past year NADFAS volunteers have been engaged on a challenging but very worthwhile project: to record the entire contents of All Hallows. Working in small teams, they’ve been visiting us once a fortnight to document memorials, metalwork, stonework, woodwork, textiles, paintings and so on. When the recording is complete, they will produce an illustrated book detailing each item and its history; copies will also be sent to national institutions. Even our seasoned recorders have been surprised and at times a little daunted at how much we have here, both on show and stored away! But they have already drawn attention to objects with a fascinating history that might otherwise have been overlooked.

One of these is the Caravarca cross kept in our Treasury. Identified by the Victoria & Albert Museum as late 17th century, this is an example of a ‘plague cross’ designed to protect the wearer from illness. The design originates in Caravarca in Spain, a town famous for its miraculous cross which is said to contain a relic of the true cross.

Each side of our small brass cross, which was once gilded, is inscribed with letters. These would each have denoted an individual blessing, probably associated with S. Zacharius, who was said to have collected a set of prayers against the plague. For example, ‘D’ stood for ‘Deus, Deus meus expelle pestem a me, et a loco isto, et libera me’ (God, my God, drive the plague from me, and from this place, and liberate me). The crosses which punctuate the letters represent separate prayers for God’s protection from the plague, each one beginning ‘Crux…’ (‘Cross of Christ’).

It’s a stark reminder of the fear which plague aroused, many centuries before the disease was understood or a cure found, and a token too of the people’s hope and expectation of divine protection. For further information, see this interesting article.

Upcoming events

ALL HALLOWS SUNDAY SCHOOL second and fourth Sundays, during the 11am service

LUNCHTIME RECITAL  by Iain Gibbs and friends, Saturday 7 October, 12 noon

MARITIME MEMORIAL BOOK SERVICE Thursday 12 October, 12 noon

JUST SHARE EVENT: Ethical employment practices Tuesday 24 October, 6pm

ALL HALLOWS QUIZ NIGHT Saturday 21 October, 7pm

Join us for all these and more at:

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 10.43.26 AM


life ON TOWER HILL 09/17


Parish news from All Hallows by the Tower                                 September 2017



Stewardship Sunday

Many thanks to Tilly and Evie, two young members of our congregation, who made the video above. It was shown at our special Eucharist for Stewardship Sunday on 3rd September, as we reflected on the ways in which we can give back to God some of the gifts – both in goods and in talents – that he has given us. As the video shows, All Hallows is a special place to many people, and we need the support of all our members to continue our mission here on Tower Hill.

Please look at the stewardship page on our website for more details of how you can donate to All Hallows or help in other ways.

Meet… Angie

angie2Continuing in our series on the All Hallows team, this month we feature Angie Poppitt, our Operations and Finance Manager. Angie runs the parish office, co-ordinates services and events, manages the church finances and is also PCC Secretary – in other words she is a lynch pin of the organisation and fount of All Hallows knowledge!

‘What I like about the job is its huge diversity’ she says.  ‘One minute I might be choreographing our triennial Battle with the Tower of London or wrestling with a cash flow spreadsheet, and the next making tea for a homeless visitor to the church or arranging a guided tour for a U3A group.’

Before coming to All Hallows Angie spent ten years working in politics, organising conferences and seminars as well as dealing with PR and publicity. She had previously worked at St James the Less in Westminster, as well as being involved with a number of different charities, including a stint in Uganda helping to train youth workers.

A happy All Hallows memory is co-ordinating a celebrity chefs’ pancake race soon after she joined, which got good press coverage and helped to raise money for the Sport Relief ‘Run a Mile’ challenge.

Bertrand marathonBerlin Marathon

Speaking of running, you may have heard that Bertrand our Vicar missed out on this year’s London Marathon owing to injury.  The good news is that he is back on track, and will be running the Berlin Marathon on September 24th to raise funds to upgrade parts of our building for community use.

Please click here to donate via his fund-raising page.


Upcoming events

ALL HALLOWS SUNDAY SCHOOL second and fourth Sundays, starting on 10 September, during the 11am service

HARVEST FESTIVAL Sunday 1 October, 11am

MARITIME MEMORIAL BOOK SERVICE Thursday 12 October, 12 noon

JUST SHARE EVENT: Ethical employment practices Tuesday 24 October, 6pm

ALL HALLOWS QUIZ NIGHT Saturday 21 October, 7pm


Join us for all these and more at:

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 10.43.26 AM





life ON TOWER HILL 07/17


Parish News from All Hallows by the Tower                        July 2017

Inclusive Church
As Revd Bertrand Olivier mentioned in his video, here at All Hallows we are part of Inclusive Church, a gathering of churches committed to fulfilling the gospel call of love and acceptance. Our statement of belief is:

“We believe in inclusive Church – church which does not discriminate, on any level, on grounds of economic power, gender, mental health, physical ability, race or sexuality. We believe in Church which welcomes and serves all people in the name of Jesus Christ; which is scripturally faithful; which seeks to proclaim the Gospel afresh for each generation; and which, in the power of the Holy Spirit, allows all people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Jesus Christ.”

It is a simple statement of love, but one we consider deeply important. So whoever you are, know that you are welcome here at All Hallows as part of our family and, more importantly, as part of the family of God.

“We’re all going on a summer holiday…”
Well, that time of year has come around again, when the schools let out and London becomes flooded with families and groups of children. Thinking of something to do with the kids this summer? We have plenty of activities here that children and children-at-heart will love. From historical treasure hunts to arts and crafts; there is something at All Hallows for everyone.  So come on by, 7-days-a-week, bring the family, and enjoy learning, playing and exploring history.


Upcoming Events
On top of our weekly services and events (which you can see here), we also have some upcoming annual events, including:

Londinium Walk
28th July

Join us for all these and more at

life ON TOWER HILL 06/17


Parish News from All Hallows by the Tower                        June 2017

Continuing our series on the team at All Hallows, this month we feature Sophia Acland, our Associate Priest. Sophia has special responsibility for weekday ministry at All Hallows, and is here Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. ‘Every time I come out of the tube station at Tower Hill, and see All Hallows, the oldest church in the City, next to the ancient buildings of the Tower but with the backdrop of the Shard and the Walkie-Talkie, I feel lucky to be in this very special place,’ she says.

‘The combination of traditional and contemporary is reflected in the weekday life of the church too. Events like last week’s Beating of the Bounds attended by our associated livery companies, or the Knollys Rose ceremony (which takes place on 14th June) have been held here for hundreds of years. But we also try to meet the needs of today’s Tower Hill community in a variety of different ways. Our Wednesday evening Taizé (click here for more info, and to find out if Taizé is for you) provides some calm and reflective space with God for those from the offices round about who may have had a long and stressful day. As it is international and ecumenical in character (we sing in English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Latin and Greek and have even attempted Latvian!) it has also become a good way to welcome those who have recently moved here from abroad, or who are visiting as tourists.’

Sophia also provides a chaplaincy service so that people under pressure, or anxious about work or relationships can come and air their worries in confidence, and has recently begun a Tuesday lunchtime healing Eucharist where the many prayer requests left on our prayer board and in our prayer book are offered to God, and where prayers are said for healing, both individual and corporate.

‘I am conscious of the many different constituents that make up our parish and would like to be of service to as many of them as possible. As well as the business community, there are an ever-increasing number of hotels. Then there are the retail outlets, the people involved in river and tube transport, those who work – often on the minimum wage and at night – for service and facilities companies, and the homeless.’ All Hallows tries to offer a welcome to them all, and Sophia has been involved in various outreach projects, including work on financial inclusion, a Death Café (which provided a safe space to discuss death and dying), and a community photography project to commemorate the Great Fire of London.

Sophia is also licensed as Associate Priest in two parishes in Gloucestershire and enjoys the mix of work this dual role provides: ‘The combination of the two jobs is really interesting, if sometimes a little surreal: I could be taking a big City memorial service during the week with a congregation of insurance brokers and lawyers and then at the weekend find myself in the middle of a field in the Cotswolds with assorted horses, dogs and guinea pigs and their owners for our animal service!’

Upcoming Events
On top of our weekly services and events (which you can see here), we also have some upcoming annual events, including:

June 14th
Knolly’s Rose Ceremony

June 17th
Church Quiz Evening

June 25th
Teddy Bear’s Picnic

Join us for all these and more at

life ON TOWER HILL 05/17


Parish News from All Hallows by the Tower                        May 2017

‘And let us run with perseverance…’
The Marathon played a big part in the life of All Hallows the weekeIMG_2670nd before last. In the course of 7 hours, over 40,000 runners and walkers, at least three rhinos and a giant hotdog passed the doors of the church as they approached the 23mile mark (not to
mention the spectators, many of whom stopped by for refreshments, or those who attended the London Marathon Official service at All Hallows the evening before).
Amongst the runners was our very own Martin Carr, who ran the race in a remarkable 4hrs 9mins and raised a staggering £2,500. There is still time to support him.
Please do join us in congratulating him and wishing him the best of luck next year. 🎉

‘In Search of Healing’
Many people who visit All Hallows come here at least partly in search of healing. It’s very moving to read the short prayers – in a wide variety of languages – left on our prayer board or in our book each week. A prayer for a friend who has just received a frightening diagnosis; for a grandparent who is dying; from a couple longing for a child; from someone struggling with the breakdown of a relationship – they illustrate the fragility of life and our universal need for healing, reconciliation and wholeness.

With this in mind we have recently begun a new short lunchtime service, a Eucharist for Healing, which takes place in the Columbarium Chapel in the crypt on Tuesdays at 1.00 pm. The week’s prayer slips and book entries are placed on the altar and we pray for healing both for individuals and more widely: for the healing of divided communities at home and abroad, for reconciliation between nations, for Christian unity, even for the healing of the earth in the face of current environmental challenges. Healing and restoration are integral to the good news of Christ, so a service like this helps us reconnect with the God whose purpose for us is a life of wholeness. Do join us to pray for yourself or for others, and if you have someone special you would like us to mention by name, let Sophia know beforehand:

‘Meet Adey’
Every month, as we release our newsletter, we will be introducing you to some of the players at All Hallows who are here during the week. We start this month with the effervescent Adey Grummet, our Education and History Officer, who manages visitor experience amongst many other tasks around the church. Throughout the year, tens of thousands of tourists walk through the doors of All Hallows and Adey’s role includes helping them to experience our church in the best way possible. When asked, Adey told us “The best part of my work at All Hallows is never knowing what’s coming day to day.” All Hallows is right in the centre of the business and tourist community and strives to welcome all our visitors so that they may get a glimpse of our long standing presence in this busy part of London. Whether helping with the sell-out work of our bi-Annual Education Project (with Clios Company) or liaising with tour guides and individual guests, Adey helps people to see the church as not just a beautiful building but a place of worship to our great and amazing God.
“There’s such a sense of heritage here,” she says. “Everyone who has walked through this door over the last 1,400 years has added to its history.” We quite agree, and Adey is one of those people too – helping the church stay vibrant. Adey also spends a lot of time with our indispensable volunteers. “They’re great, so willing to help however they can. Even with something as simple as making tea. You haven’t tasted a cup of tea ’til Barbara has made one for you.”
Humour and kind observations like this are what make Adey such a valuable member of our team here at All Hallows: no action or task is small enough to go unnoticed by her or so grand as to be considered insurmountable. We are blessed to have Adey on our team.  Adey works Mondays and Fridays. Do drop in and say hello.

Upcoming Events
On top of our weekly services and events (which you can see here), we also have some upcoming annual events, including:

May 12th
Lunchtime Concert

May 25th
The Beating of the Bounds

June 14th
Knolly’s Rose Ceremony

Join us for all these and more at

Desert Journeys – 14/4/17

Desert Journeys 33

April 14th 2017

This poem was written by the Anglican priest and army chaplain Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy, known affectionately by the troops during WW1 as ‘Woodbine Willie’. It reflects the period of disillusion which followed the war, a time of economic downturn and unemployment coupled with rising secularism and materialism. Today, on Good Friday, the saddest day of the Christian year, it still resonates strongly.


by G.A. Studdert-Kennedy (1883-1929)

When Jesus came to Golgotha, they hanged Him on a tree,

They drove great nails through hands and feet, and made a Calvary;

They crowned Him with a crown of thorns, red were His wounds and deep,

For those were crude and cruel days, and human flesh was cheap.

When Jesus came to Birmingham, they simply passed Him by.

They would not hurt a hair of Him, they only let Him die;

For men had grown more tender, and they would not give Him pain,

They only just passed down the street, and left Him in the rain.

Still Jesus cried, ‘Forgive them, for they know not what they do,’

And still it rained the winter rain that drenched Him through and through;

The crowds went home and left the streets without a soul to see,

And Jesus crouched against a wall, and cried for Calvary.

Bertrand Olivier, All Hallows By The Tower


Desert Journeys – 13/4/17

Desert Journeys 32

April 13th 2017

Nearly at the culmination of our Lenten desert journey with Christ, Holy Week is a smorgasbord of activities, and Maundy Thursday is the real beginning of the roller coaster which takes us to the height of emotions before plummeting into the abyss of Good Friday.

For bishops, clergy and lay ministers, the day starts in the cathedral for the Chrism Mass – a Eucharist where oils used for the sacraments throughout the year are blessed by the Bishop, and where the gathered ministers lay and ordained reaffirm their commitment to ministry.

Maundy Thursday liturgies later in the day include a re-enactment of Jesus’ washing of his disciples feet – challenging traditional leadership values – before the sharing in the last supper and the waiting in the garden. As we enter into these liturgies, we may feel overwhelmed by the sense of love and impending loss, the absurdity of Jesus’ journey – yet feel absolutely powerless to change it all.

In this singular journey with Christ, we enter the desert of the soul, and we are called to empty ourselves of our own desires that we may be filled with divine grace.

On Maundy Thursday, the shadow of the cross seems still far away, yet it is just around the corner. Can we bear to watch and wait, even for one hour?

Bertrand Olivier

Vicar, All Hallows by the Tower

Desert journeys – 12/4/17

Desert Journeys 31

April 12th 2017

Within the wider journey of Lent, Holy Week is the time when our direction of travel is concentrated, focussed on the central events of the Christian story. This is a time when we really need to commit to the journey, because the powerful liturgies of Holy Week ask us to walk alongside Jesus all the way from his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to his death on the cross and burial.

These are not events at which we are just spectators, armchair travellers watching in safety from afar: we are asked to inhabit the story ourselves, actually to participate in this great drama of our faith. So just as the crowds in Jerusalem did, we wave our palms, sing Hosannas and process outside in the spring sunshine on Palm Sunday; like the disciples we submit shamefacedly to having our feet washed; we share with Jesus in the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday; and we try to watch and pray with him late into the evening in the garden, tempted perhaps to fall asleep and aware of our own massive limitations in the face of his courage and faith.

On Good Friday, the journey focusses down even further. For centuries people have traced Jesus’ actual footsteps along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem as he carried his cross to Golgotha, and many more have joined them in spirit by following the stations of the cross around their church or parish. There is something profoundly important about being physically involved in Passiontide, I think because it reminds us of our own part in Jesus’ death, and the implications this has for our future. In the parish in Gloucestershire where I serve part-time, we have our own ‘green hill far away’, known locally as Cam Peak, and each Good Friday a procession from churches of all denominations carries a heavy, life-size cross two miles from the town centre and past various ‘stations’ to its summit. It’s a stiff climb, but each year around 300 people make it to the top to pray at the foot of the cross, a reminder that, as Rowan Williams has put it ‘God’s future is alive here and now, and it is us’.

Sophia Acland

Associate Priest, All Hallows by the Tower and

Associate Priest, Cam with Stinchcombe, Gloucestershire

Desert Journeys – 11/4/2017

Desert Journeys 30

April 11th 2017

Aboriginal hunter in outback at sunset.

Many cultures and faiths other than Christianity feature stories or traditions of people stepping away from home and going off into the wilderness, often to commune with something greater or divine.

The aborigines of Australia walk the Songlines across thousands of miles, the Native Americans seclude themselves in a natural environment on Vision Quests, and the story of the Buddha reports that he left a life of luxury and meditated under the Bodhi tree for 49 days before achieving enlightenment.

In our ‘always on’ lifestyle, where smartphones and emails constantly connect us to the 24-hour cycle of updates and newsfeeds, and where the ethos is often to add and complicate rather than to subtract and simplify, it’s both challenging and appealing to think about unplugging ourselves from the constant churn of input, and to allow the natural world around us to be heard.

Forty days and nights of fasting in the desert isn’t feasible for most of us (many employers allow flexible working now, but wi-fi tends to be hard to come by in places where the view to the horizon is nothing but sand), but it’s nonetheless possible to get away from it all, even if only on a temporary basis; in recent years, the idea of a ‘digital detox’ has been gaining in popularity, and whilst it might be beyond some of us to go an entire day without checking email or social media, simple steps like not checking email before breakfast can be seen as a small victory, a way of fighting the temptation to allow a distraction to become an addiction.

Similarly, physically taking oneself away from everyday locations can allow for refreshed insight – a change, they say, is as good as a rest. A lunchbreak spent in a nearby park instead of eating a sandwich at your desk, or even taking a moment to look up, at the sky, instead of down at a smartphone, can provide us with a micro-retreat – a small speck of comfort, perhaps, but then again the biggest desert is made up accumulated grains of sand.

In his popular philosophy book The Tao of Pooh, Benjamin Hoff points out that “if timesaving devices really saved time, there would be more time available to us now than any other time in history”, and yet we often hear about our ‘busy modern lifestyle’, one in which it seems that we have no time to stop and think, or to walk in nature – we have things to prepare for, plans to make, and things to do.

And yet as the time of his passion drew close, Jesus made a point of taking himself away from everyday life to reflect and prepare for the days to come; if this was the case for Him, how much more so would our lives benefit from us breaking from routine to think, reflect, and pray?

John Soanes