The Chapel Royal of St Peter
ad Vincula is the parish church of the Tower of London.
Its name translates as 'St Peter
in Chains' and refers to St Peter's first imprisonment under
Herod in Jerusalem. This sombre name is appropriate
for a building set in such a sombre place.
The present church, rebuilt in
1520, dates from the reign of Henry the VIII, and stands to
the north of Tower Green where numerous executions took place.
Many of the famous victims to
be executed on Tower Green are buried in the adjoining churchyard.
These include Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, the 2nd and
5th wives of Henry VIII, and Lady Jane Grey, who reigned for
nine days in 1553. Sir Thomas More and Sir John Fisher,
who incurred the wrath of Henry VIII, and were later canonised
by the Roman Catholic Church, are also buried here.
A list of those executed can
be seen on the west wall.
At the west end of the church
is a short tower, surmounted by a lantern bell-cote, and inside
the church is a nave and shorter north aisle, lit by windows
with cupsed lights but no tracery, a typical Tudor design.
The most important feature of
St Peter's is its magnificent monuments. In the north-west
corner is a memorial to John Holland, Duke of Exeter, who
died 1447, a Constable of the Tower. Under the central
arcade lies the effigy of Sir Richard Cholmondeley, who died
1544, a Lieutenant of the Tower. In the sanctuary there
is an impressive monument to Sir Richard Blount, who died
1574, and his son Sir Michael, died 1596, both Tudor Lieutenants
of the Tower who would have witnessed many of the executions.