Forget 1066. History at St Alfege Church begins in 1012, when Danish warriors killed a hostage they had taken during their raid on Canterbury. The murder of Alfege, Archbishop of Canterbury, here in Greenwich led to the building of the first church. It was rebuilt in the 13th century, and later, with Greenwich Palace not far away, was lucky enough to have Thomas Tallis as church organist. When the roof collapsed, the medieval church was replaced in 1718 by the present building, designed by Sir Nicholas Hawksmoor - apart from the tower, which was remodelled by local architect John James. Bombing in the Second World War led to a second roof collapse, and a wholesale restoration. The church was rededicated in 1953. Among the extraordinary cast of characters buried in the crypt and graveyard is General Wolfe, victor of Quebec.
Heritage at St Alfege Church is as much about the living as the dead. We may not know exactly where Tallis is buried beneath the chancel, but his music is still regularly sung by the choir as it has been in the past. 2012 was marked not just by the London Olympics, but by the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, leading a special millennium service in the church, with a recreated Anglo-Saxon village outside taking us back to the days of St Alfege. Those who remember the Blitz, and saw the church burning, or those who sheltered in the crypt, have given powerful first-hand accounts of their experiences to Open Church volunteers. Those with happier memories or who come from all over the world to research their family histories, are equally welcome to tell their stories.