St Etheldreda’s Church

Nuggets – bite size chunks of London

St Etheldreda’s Church, Ely Place

The Bishop of Ely’s ‘place in London’ was a mansion that stood in and beyond what is now Ely Place, Holborn. Though the bishops and their palatial London home are long gone, their private chapel has survived from the late 13th century. It is the oldest Roman Catholic church in England. Since 1874 the church has been in the care of the Institute of Charity (the Rosminian Fathers).

Mass is cele­brated here daily and the church is open to visitors from 8am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and from 8am to 12.30pm on Sundays.

St Ethel­dreda’s website has an excellent history of the church and a brief biography of Ethel­dreda, the virgin queen of East Anglia.

The Blessing of Throats is a ceremony conducted annually at the church. Ethel­dreda is a patron saint of throat and neck ailments but the blessing is specif­i­cally asso­ci­ated with St Blaise, a 4th-century Armenian bishop who legen­darily saved the life of a boy who had a fishbone stuck in his throat and was in danger of choking to death. The service takes place on or imme­di­ately after St Blaise’s Day, 3 February.
St Etheldreda in stained glass backlit