The regimental chapel in London is The Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincular within Her Majesty's Tower of London. Although the words 'ad Vincular' , meaning 'in chains' suggests a special association with prisoners, the title long predates the time when the Tower came into regular use as a prison. St Peter's had been a City parish church standing outside the walls of the Tower until it was incorporated into the castle when it was enlarged by King Henry III. He had the Chapel rebuilt during his reign, and richly furnished and decorated it as a place of worship for the community within the Tower, a role it continues to fulfil today. St Peter's was rebuilt in the reign of Henry III's son, Edward, and again rebuilt in its present form in 1519-20 in the early years of Henry VIII's reign. Situated close by the scaffold site the Chapel is the last resting place of all who died there and of many who died on nearby Tower Hill. The Chapel contains some splendid monuments commemorating officers of the Tower, their families and many more humble residents who worshipped in this, their parish church.
The Chapel is probably best known for being the burial place of some of the most famous Tower prisoners including three queens: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey plus many others of noble blood or high position including two saints of the Roman Catholic Church, Sir Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher.
Contemporary accounts record that before laying his head on the block Sir Thomas More asked the executioner to ensure that he brought the axe down five times before his head was severed 'in common with the wounds of our Lord'. This is believed to refer to the five wounds suffered by Christ upon the cross with four nail wounds in his hands and feet and one in his side from the Roman's sword. When, with Queen Victoria's approval, the Chapel was restored in 1876, the remains unearthed in the nave, along with some intact coffins, were re-interred in the crypt. Bones found in the chancel, some of which could be identified as Anne Boleyn's, were reburied beneath the marble pavement in front of the altar.
When, at the time of the trial of the Seven Bishops in June 1688, the Fusiliers were guarding the prisoners in the Tower, they openly avowed their sympathy for the persecuted dignitaries and while the bishops remained under their guard in the Tower the Fusiliers repeatedly insisted on drinking their health. When Sir Edward Hales, the Constable of the Tower, heard of these proceedings he ordered that they should cease but the answer given was that 'they were doing it at that very instant and would drink that health, and no other, while the Bishops were there'.
The fine organ, built by Bernhardt Schmidt for the Banqueting House at Whitehall in 1689 and decorated with carvings by Grinling Gibbons, was installed in 1890. In 1966 a professional choir was formed which has achieved an excellent reputation.
Colours & Memorials
Hanging in the Chapel are the colours of the 1st Battalion The Royal Fusiliers and 1st London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers). On the wall of the Chapel is a memorial to seven members of the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers who lost their lives in the first Gulf War in 1991.
A board outside the Chapel gives details of services and visitors are welcome to attend. At other times entrance is allowed only as part of a tour led by one of the Yeoman Warders.
Serving officers of the regiment and soldiers stationed in the Headquarters have the privilege of marrying in The Chapel Royal and serving and veteran Fusiliers meet there for an annual service.
is situated in the Church of The Holy Sepulchre at Holborn Viaduct, London.
The chapel is situated at the south side of the church and lined with carved panels bearing the names of deceased members of the regiment. The kneelers and many of the chairs are donated by organisations and friends of the regiment. The chapel is dominated by the Great East Window designed by Mr G E R Smith of the A K Nicholson Stained Glass Studio. It consists of four upper lights with religious themes and four lower lights showing St Paul, Patron Saint of soldiers together with depictions of the home of the regiment, The Tower of London, and a Fusilier in full dress uniform. An ornamental border records the regiment's Battle Honours. The tracery lights bear coats of arms of The Earl of Dartmouth, first Colonel and The Duke of Marlborough, second Colonel.
Since amalgamation with other regiments in 1968 to form The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers the Chapel is also used for some RRF events taking place in London. The ground to the north side of the church is laid out as the Regimental Garden of Remembrance. The Memorial to members of the regiment killed in action is a statue of a First World War Fusilier erected outside the Prudential Building in Holborn Bars, London. The Chairman of the Chapel committee is a retired officer of the regiment, Colonel Dudding.
Chapel Committee Chairman
Colonel Dudding., Chairman of The Royal Fusiliers Memorial Chapel Committee.
In 1946 it was agreed that the Regimental Chapel would be within the Church of St Sepulchre's about 450 yards east of the Regimental War Memorial in Holborn Bars, London. A committee was formed to raise the necessary funds and the late Sir Charles Nicholson engaged to design the general layout of the chapel including the floor, altar, reredos, wall panelling and lectern.
On Sunday 11th June 1950 serving regular and TA members of The Royal Fusiliers headed by Colour Parties bearing 18 sets Colours of the regular and TA units of the regiment formed up on the parade ground at HM Tower of London prepared to exercise the Royal Fusiliers ancient privilege of marching through the City of London with 'drums beating, Colours flying and bayonets fixed'. Met by the mounted City Marshall at the city boundary they halted and demanded passage as was their right and, having received leave to proceed, continued to St Sepulchre's for the dedication service conducted by the Chaplain General to the Forces.
The Regimental Chapel was dedicated in the presence of HRH The Duchess of Kent, widow of a former Colonel-in Chief, The Duke of Kent, The Lord Mayor, Sheriffs and Aldermen of the City of London and many other dignataries and Fusiliers of all ranks.
St Sepulchre's, as the church is widely known, stands at the eastern end of Holborn Viaduct and at the corner of Giltspur Street so called because knights wearing gilt spurs rode that way to tournaments and other feats of arms held at Smithfield close by. It is the largest church in the City of London being internally 150 feet long and, with the addition of St Stephen's Chapel on the north side, 81 feet wide. The earliest authentic notice of the church is of the year 1178 when it was given by Roger, Bishop of Sarum, to the Prior and Canons of St Bartholomew's. The bells of this fine church are referred to as the 'Bells of Old Bailey' in the nursery rhyme 'Oranges and Lemons'. Old Bailey is situated just north-east of the church.
St Sepulchre's was badly damaged by the Great Fire of London in 1666 with restoration beginning in 1667 and completed in 1670. The church was fortunate to suffer only minor damage in the blitz of the second world war. The interior is divided into three aisles by two rows of Tuscan columns on either side upon some of which are displayed Royal Fusiliers regimental colours laid up in the church.
The Garden of Remembrance, designed by Mr Percy Cross, was originally meant as a memorial to those Fusiliers who died in the two World Wars but is now dedicated to all Fusiliers killed in action since 1914.
It is laid out at the north side of St Sepulchre's with benches bearing the regimental crest, and a flag pole on which is flown the regimental flag on national and regimental occasions. The paths are of York paving stones enclosing a stone cross.
In the garden are memorials to members of 1st Bn The Royal Fusiliers, 1st/5th Bn Royal Gurkha Rifles and 31st Field Ambulance killed during the attack on Mozzagrogna, Italy between 27th November and 17th December 1943;
and to members of 1st Bn Royal Fusiliers killed in action during the Korean war.
The Memorial, situated outside the Prudential Insurance Company building at Holborn Bars, takes the form of a 16ft 6ins pedestal of Portland stone below an 8ft 6ins bronze figure of a Royal Fusilier dressed for battle in the First World War. It was commissioned by the regiment in July 1920 at a cost of £3,000 and designed and produced by the sculptor Mr Albert Toft who died in 1950. The model for the figure was Sergeant Cox of The Royal Fusiliers and the memorial was unveiled on 4th November 1922 by The Right Honourable, The Lord Mayor. The figure stands in a war-like pose with rifle and bayonet in the 'on guard' position as if defending the entrance to the city.
Each year on Remembrance Day, the nearest Sunday to November 11th, members of the regiment, serving and retired, assemble at the War Memorial for a parade and a short service before marching to St Sepulchre's for the Remembrance Day service. The parade is led by musicians of the regiment followed by distinguished retired officers at the head of regimental veterans and their standards. The remainder of the parade consists of regular army Fusiliers when duties permit, the Fusiliers of the Territorial Army, the Combined Cadet Force and the Army Cadet Force. As the parade passes over Holborn Viaduct the salute is taken by the Deputy Colonel of the Regiment (City of London).
After the Remembrance Day Service members of the regiment make their way to Fusiliers House, the Territorial Army Drill Hall at Balham, for their annual re-union.