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.