St Giles-in-the-Fields

sights / Religious

St Giles-in-the-Fields information

London , England
60 St Giles High St
+44 7240 2532
Getting there
Underground Rail: Tottenham Court Rd
Opening hours
9am-4pm Mon-Fri
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Built in what used to be countryside between the City and Westminster, St Giles church isn’t much to look at but has an interesting history, while the area around St Giles High St had perhaps the worst reputation of any London quarter. The current structure is the third to stand on the site of an original chapel built in the 12th century to serve the leprosy hospital. Until 1547, when the hospital closed, prisoners on their way to be executed at Tyburn stopped at the church gate and sipped a large cup of soporific ale – their last refreshment – from St Giles’s Bowl. From 1650 the prisoners were buried in the church grounds. It was also within the boundaries of St Giles that the Great Plague of 1665 took hold (this is cheerful, isn’t it?). In Victorian times it was London’s worst slum, oft namechecked by Dickens. Today the forbidding streets and drug-users who hang out around the area make you feel like things haven’t changed much. An interesting relic in the church is the pulpit that was used for 40 years by John Wesley, the founder of Methodism.