This excerpt from the book helps to better appreciate the significance today of the ancient Chapel of St John, high up in the White Tower, at the Tower of London.
April 2nd (2015) Holy Communion was at seven o’clock in the ancient St John’s Chapel, with the Bishop of London, as Dean of the Chapels Royal. He says:
It is a very atmospheric place, high up in the White Tower. The acoustics are marvellous and our choir, of course, sings to extraordinary advantage. It has great spiritual density. It is the most wonderful Romanesque ecclesiastical structure, I think, in the whole of London, and ought to be much better known. This was the private oratory of the ruler. And so we go there after dark every Maundy Thursday. Roger introduced the risky custom of getting people to take off their socks and shoes and washing some feet, which of course is a very powerful way of recalling the events of the first Last Supper. It couldn’t be a more resonant and haunting place in which to recall the night in which He was betrayed, where He ate supper with his friends. And so around that stone altar we gather and sing a hymn, as they did, of course, at the Last Supper. And then in preparation for Easter the altar is stripped and Psalm 22 is chanted, which includes so many of the pictures and images which are then incorporated in the crucifixion story. One of the great climactic experiences of the year is to go there, to the Chapel of St John. And I’m very glad that after some period of controversy as to whether St John, like St Peter, was in fact a Chapel Royal, we have managed to establish that it is.