There has been an established church at this location since 1012 and it is named after the former Archbishop of Canterbury St Alfege, who was martyred by Viking raiders. Alfege had given up a life of privilege and wealth in order to serve the Church.
In 1006 he was made Archbishop of Canterbury. Raids on the Kentish coast by Vikings at the time were not uncommon. Alfege was captured and held for ransom. In 1012, the Vikings took him by boat to Greenwich where he was slain by them, on the spot where the Church is now located. His famous retort to the Vikings demand for a gold ransom was: “The gold I give you is the word of God ”.
2012 marks the Millenium of St. Alfege Church. We know that a new church was built around 1290. King Henry VIII was baptized here in 1491. John Flamsteed, first Royal Astronomer at the Royal Observatory, worshipped here.
In 1710, there was a fierce storm which destroyed the building beyond repair. The congregation petitioned Parliament and obtained funding for the construction of a new church in 1711 as a result of Parliament passing the Act of 1711 which proposed the building of some 50 new churches of stone.
Funding was made possible via the Coal Tax, but in the end only 14 churches were built throughout London. The architect appointed to design the new church, was Nicholas Hawksmoor who was a student of the great Sir Christopher Wren, responsible for St. Paul’s Cathedral as well as the old Royal Naval College design. The new church was completed in 1718.
Well-known individuals are associated with the Church including General Wolfe who defeated Montcalm in Quebec, and is buried here. General Gordon of Khartoum was baptized here.
During W.W. II, the Church suffered severe damage when incendiary bombs caused the roof to collapse in 1941. Pain-staking and expensive repairs followed, making possible a full restoration which was completed in 1953. Today the Church functions with an active congregation and an excellent choir.
For more information on the St Alfege Church click here.