The Welsh Church in the city, it is referred to by antiquarian John Stowe as ‘St.Benet Hude’ (or Hithe) in his ‘Survey of London’ 1598, due to it’s proximity to the River Thames.
St. Benet’s was first built in the 12th Century on Roman foundations and has been the church of The College Of Arms since 1555. The College, which is located almost opposite the church in Queen Victoria Street, records, grants and regulates Coats of Arms in England, Wales and N. Ireland. Heraldry is evident throughout the church, including a Stuart period Coat of Arms above the ornate West door.
Architect Inigo Jones was buried here in 1652, however, a memorial to him was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Christopher Wren’s Master Mason Thomas Strong rebuilt the church between 1677-83, in an unusual design (for the city) of red and blue bricks, in a Dutch style.
Due to being spared bomb damage during World War II, It is one of the few examples of a city church designed by Wren’s office (possibly Robert Hooke) that remains greatly in original condition. Many of the excellent furnishings on display originate from this period.
In the 1870’s St. Benet’s was due for demolition. After petitioning, Queen Victoria agreed in 1879 to grant use of the church to Welsh Anglicans, who were looking for a permanent home. Services in Welsh have continued here ever since.