Welcome to St Olave's churchyard
St Olave Hart Street, founded in the 11th century, is one of the few medieval City churches to have escaped the Great Fire of London.
The churchyard dates back many centuries and has a rich history. The house of Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth I's spymaster, stood nearby. The 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys walked through the churchyard and to attend services, and he and his wife are buried in the church. Among others buried here are hundreds who died in the Great Plague of 1665. Charles Dickens knew the place well, calling it 'one of my best beloved churchyards'. The church and churchyard were badly damaged during the Blitz of 1940-41, but were restored in the early 1950s
The granite labyrinth in the south-west corner of the churchyard provides a spiritual and meditative pathway. Labyrinths date from earliest times and can be found all over the world. You are invited to walk your way to the Cross and in your footsteps find Christ.
Among the plants to be seen here are ones that have been used over may centuries for medicinal and decorative purposes. They include some of the 300 native plants first described in English by the naturalist and physician William Turner (c.1508-1568), known as 'the father of English botany'. Turner is buried in the church, along with his son Peter (1542-1614), also a physician. Today we still use many of Turner's plant names, including monkshood, loosestrife and daffodil.
Enjoy your time in this peaceful sanctuary amidst the bustle of the city. More information can be found inside the church or on our website.
The churchyard is maintained by the City of London Corporation.
With thanks to the City of London Corporation and others who contributed towards the refurbishment project, including Apex Hotels, The City Churches Grants Committee, The Clothworkers' Foundation, The Metropolitan Public Gardens Association and Trinity House.
Above: 18th-century print of the church and churchyard. The enclosed staircase against the church wall led to the gallery pew built in 1660 for the use of Navy Office personnel (including Samuel Pepys).
Right: Detail of the labyrinth.