The Crypt Museum

Crypt Museum cabinetsThe museum leads you on a fascinating journey through time, charting the history of the church, its people and the City of London.

The museum is in part of the original Saxon church and contains part of the Roman tessellated floor of a late 2nd Century domestic house, a collection of Roman and Saxon artefacts, church plate and ancient registers dating back to the 16th century. Their entries record the baptism of William Penn, the marriage of John Quincy-Adams and the burial of Archbishop William Laud, amongst many other historic events on Tower Hill. A model of Talbot House recalls the work of the Rev'd 'Tubby' Clayton, former Vicar of All Hallows and founder of TocH.

Many people know the large, old barrel which is in our collection of artefacts. It is fitted with several metal uprights with a spliced piece of rope threaded through them and it has emerged from its corner in the Museum to be displayed in the South aisle of the church. This barrel is actually Shackleton’s Crow’s Nest from the ship the Quest, which Sir Ernest Shackleton used for his third and last Antarctic voyage in 1921 and 1922. On 17 September 1921, having been fitted out in St Katherine’s dock and formally inspected by King George V, the Quest sailed past All Hallows church and through a raised Tower Bridge to begin her voyage south. Thousands of well-wishers lined the riverbanks and the bridges to cheer her on her way.

Recently, the crow’s nest was waved off on a long voyage for a second time. Centenary celebrations on both sides of the world took place in 2021 and 2022 and the crow’s nest was a central feature of exhibitions in both Athy in Ireland (Shackleton’s birthplace) and in South Georgia, which is where he unexpectedly died. The ‘barrel’ travelled first to Ireland to be reunited there with Shackleton’s specially built deck cabin from the Quest. These two items were the only surviving pieces of the ship and it was the first time they have both been in the same place since the end of the original expedition. The whole project, almost three years in the planning, was a tremendous success and the crow’s nest returned safely to All Hallows in August 2023. The exciting discovery of the remains of the Quest in June 2024 has reignited much interest in the Shackleton story.

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