St Sepulchre-without-Newgate also known as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Holborn), is an Anglican church located on Holborn Viaduct almost opposite the Old Bailey. In medieval times it stood just outside (“without”) the now-demolished old city wall, near the Newgate. It has been a living of St John’s College, Oxford since 1622 and is part of the area designated the ‘Newgate Street Conservation Area’ (No.6) by the City of London.
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. Modified in the 18th century, the church underwent extensive restoration in 1878. It narrowly avoided destruction in the Second World War although the 18th-century watch-house in its churchyard (erected to deter grave-robbers) was completely destroyed and had to be rebuilt.
St Sepulchre is named in the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons as the ‘bells of Old Bailey’. An account exists which told of a Mr John Dowe, a London merchant, who paid the parish £50 to buy a handbell on the condition that it would be wrung to mark the execution of a prisoner at the nearby gallows at Newgate. This handbell, known as the Execution Bell, now resides in a glass case to the south of the nave.
The largest parish church in the City of London St Sepulchre is also the ‘Musicians’ church.
Priest-in-charge David Ingall says:
St. Sepulchre’s is an Anglican church next to the Old Bailey, with a vision of “Living for God in the heart of the City.” We have a big vision to be a church where everyone is welcome, where people can find out about Jesus, and where Christians can grow in their faith. We have contemporary worship and teaching services every Sunday (1030am) and Tuesday lunchtime (drop in/out anytime between 1-2pm), and a more traditional Choral Evensong on a Tuesday (6:30pm), we run regular Alpha courses at various times during the week for those wanting to find out more about Jesus, and we have a 24/7 prayer room for Christians wanting to book a slot to pray. We have a particular context as a workplace-focused church and the National Musicians’ Church, as well as a desire to engage with social action and international links.