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St Clement Danes

Central Church of the RAF
Post Code : WC2R 1DH
Telephone : 0207 242 8282
Free Admission

St Clement DanesSt Clement Danes sits isolated on a traffic island in the middle of the Strand.

St Clement Danes derives it's name from the earliest church to stand on the site, founded by descendants of the Danish invaders, whom Alfred the Great allowed to remain in London in the 9th century.

The body of the present church was rebuilt in 1680-82 by Sir Christopher Wren, and in 1669 Joshua Marshall created the west tower, the familiar spire was added by James Gibbs in 1719.

The bells of St Clements Danes could be the ones mentioned in the nursery rhyme 'Oranges and Lemons' but although the bells play out the tune, St Clement's, Eastcheap, also designed by Wren, is more likely to be the church in the rhyme. The Eastcheap church is near the wharves where citrus fruit used to be unloaded. Nevertheless, children of St Clements Danes Primary School are given an orange and a lemon after the annual service.

St Clements Danes was damaged by bombing in 1941, and the restoration work was carried out by Anthony Lloyd in 1955.

The galleried interior, with it's dark stained wood, follows Wren's original. Above the galleries Corinthian columns and coffered arches support the tunnel-vault of the nave.

The east end consists of a quadrant bay on each side and an apse, and over each arch are the Stuart arms. The reredos, built in the Wren style, has two large panels painted by Ruskin Spear representing the Annunciation.

Other features include the east window depicting Christ in Glory created by Carl Edwards, a highly-carved pulpit dating from the 17th century with an ornate lecturn designed by Anthony Lloyd, and in the west gallery is a gilded organ by Ralph Downes.

Dr. Samuel Johnson, 1709-84, was a regular member of the congregation of St Clement Danes. During the 17th to 19th centuries many people were buried in the crypt and the chain hanging on the crypt wall was used to secure the coffin lids against body-snatchers.

Since 1958 St Clement Danes has served as the central church of the Royal Air Force. The nave and aisles have the crests of hundreds of RAF squadrons, and below the aisle windows are the RAF rolls of honour. The unusually wide aisle of the church has over 700 squadron badges in slate set into the floor. At the west end is a larger badge for the RAF, surrounded by the badges of overseas allies, together with carved stalls for the commanders of the RAF.

Outside the church are statues of Lord Dowding, victor of the Battle of Britain, and Sir Arthur (Bomber) Harris, Marshall of the RAF.

London bus tour
Map How to get to St Clement Danes

Nearest Underground Station

Nearest Underground Station Temple or Embankment

Nearest Railway Station

Charing Cross
Opening Times
Daily 09:00-16:00, closed Bank Holidays. Sometimes closes for services.
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