National Musicians' Church - St Sepulchre-without-Newgate

Published: Friday, July 11, 2014


With the 2014 BBC Proms starting on July 18, what better time could there be to visit the Musicians' church of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate

St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, has many associations with Sir Henry Wood, the founder of the Promenade Concerts. Located next to Holborn viaduct and opposite the Old Bailey, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, also known as the ‘Church of the Holy Sepulchre’, is an Anglican church in the City of London.

The original Saxon church on the site was dedicated to St Edmund the King and Martyr. During the Crusades in the 12th century the church was renamed St Edmund and the Holy Sepulchre, in reference to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The church is today the largest parish church in the City. It was completely rebuilt in the 15th century but was gutted by the Great Fire of London in 1666, which left only the outer walls, the tower and the porch standing. The interior of the church is a wide, roomy space with a coffered ceiling and beautiful tiled floor.

St Sepulchre’s is the ‘The National Musicians Church in London’.  It is where the founder of the Promenade Concerts, Sir Henry Wood, learnt to play the organ in The St Stephen Harding Chapel. He was appointed Assistant Organist at the church, aged 14.  When Sir Henry Wood died in 1944, his ashes were laid to rest in the chapel which was subsequently renamed The Musicians’ Chapel. The Chapel also has a memorial stained-glass window in Wood's honour.

Musical Traditions

St Sepulchre’s continues to cultivate links to musicians and musical institutions today through The Friends of the Musicians’ Chapel, and a wide range of concerts and recitals.

Its musical traditions continue to thrive thanks to the help of Anglo Japanese Society of Wessex (AJSW), the main organiser of lunchtime concerts at the church.

Since 1996, the Anglo-Japanese Society of Wessex has been promoting Japanese culture and Japanese artists in events throughout the Wessex region and beyond, which variously extended from the south west of England to include London and its surrounding area. It also now organises events beyond that region and incorporates musicians from all over the world whilst retaining its original focus.

Godfrey King, Director of AJSW, has been dedicating his time to promoting the excellent talents of young artists from across the globe for over ten years.

He said: “After organising hundreds of mainly lunch concerts in London Churches I came to St Sepulchre to build yet another lunch concert programme from October  2012.”

“Lunch concerts support the church concert programme where it is hired by various orchestras, ensembles and choral groups. And last September, following an interegnum, the Rev David Ingle was installed as the vicar. Religious services were restored to St Sepulchre's growing reputationbefitting the largest parish church in the City of London. A personal wish is for that to stretch to a new concert grand piano as well!”

“To our lunch concerts the finest musicians come from all over the world to the UK to study, visit or live. Our evening concert 'SHOWCASE' on Friday July 18th of our own AJSW Chamber Music Ensemble 7.30 follows a lunch concert at 1.10 by flutist Yukari Yamamura and pianist Yukiko Shinohara indicating the wealth of that talent. Musicians from Japan, Korea, Spain, UK, Belarus and Bulgaria play for our fourth CME concert.”

“Do come join us at St Sepulchre for that 'Great Experience' and help build up our audiences by showing your appreciation of the musicians’ talents.”

Concerts at St Sepulchre