One of my favourite times in London is between meetings when I get to (purposefully) wander the streets of the City, seeking out unusual venues, great little unknown places that I can add to my list of unique and creative venues to host client events. And also, I love history.
Walking from Holborn Circus through to Hatton Garden, I discovered St Etheldreda’s Roman Catholic church, hidden away among Georgian houses in a quiet gated street Ely Place, just off Holborn. The thirteenth century chapel ,the second oldest extant building from Edward I is all that remains of The Bishop of Ely’s Palace. Henry VIII holed up here for five days with Catherine of Aragon whilst squabbling about divorce, apparently, and also held his three-day wedding feast here in 1531.
It’s still a working church, with regular services. The stained glass windows in the upstairs main chapel are incredible, each with a history of their own, and the atmospheric crypt downstairs is really one of London’s hidden gems.
The crypt is the venue hire secret: holding up to 200 guests for a reception, and 130 for a sit down dinner, the catering is exclusively with The Bleeding Heart restaurant, and based on room hire (which I think goes to the church), plus F&B and a service charge. I could also imagine conferences, seminars or team offsites in the space, and in the warmer weather, coffee breaks outside on the terrace.
It’s a striking place to entertain clients, celebrate the history of the city, and be inspired by architectural excellence. I’d be looking to bring in an experienced guide who could host small tours for those guests who wanted to learn more, and create a memorable event clients will be talking about for ages.
There’s a fabulous photo set on Flickr.