The Sanctuary

Saint Olaves Church (the sanctuary)

According to surviving records, there has been a church on the corner of Hart Street and Seething Lane since the thirteenth century. There is, however, a good chance its presence goes back a lot further than that (the church is named after Ling Olaf the second of Norway who fought alongside Aethelred the Unready against the Danes at the battle of London Bridge in 1014.It’s safe to say a church was probably erected in this era if it bears his name.

The connection to Norway continues to this day with King Haaken the second of Norway worshipping there during his Second World War exile. Unfortunately, during this period, it was effectively destroyed in a Luftwaffe raid. Ironic considering this was one of the few churches to have survived the Great Fire of 1666. In 1954 King Haaken returned for the rededication ceremony and laid a stone from Trondheim Cathedral in the church.

The Entrance

The entrance of St Olaves is famous for its grinning skulls (something Charles Dickens described as the Ghastly Grim) and is at odds with the rest of the church, which is a traditional rectangular, three bay, brick design apart from the tower which was built out of brick and stone in 1732.

Famous Dead People

The church has some notable people buried under it. Anthony Bacon, an Elizabethan spy, was buried here in 1601 (no I’ve never heard of him either but I guess he was famous in his day).

Samuel Pepys, the London diarist, was buried here in 1703, having been a regular worshipper here since his days working in the Admiralty building across the road from the church.

Also buried there are Mary Ramsey, though to have brought the Black Death to London (buried in a very, very deep grave I’m guessing and Mother Goose (seriously, I’m not making this up, her burial is registered in 1586.)