Climb The Tower Of This Upper Street Church

By M@
Climb The Tower Of This Upper Street Church
The view from the top of a church tower in Islington showing the distant City and Canary Wharf skylines

Take a tour of this historic church, then climb the tower.

"Please note that the clock bells might chime during the tour and are extremely loud."

Smallprint is rarely alluring, but the details for ascending St Mary's tower just made us want to visit all the more. "You will be required to wear a head torch during the climb," states another, "All the climb is up a very narrow spiral staircase". This is going to be fun.

St Mary's church has stood — in one form or another — on Upper Street for almost a thousand years. The version we get today is partly 18th century (the tower), and partly 20th (it was the first London church to be hit during the Blitz). Now, Islington Guided Walks are offering tours of this fascinating building, including the chance to climb the tower and see ancient stones in the crypt.

Red, white and blue bell rope in St Mary's church Islington

Various Friday and Saturday dates are available throughout the spring. Tours cost £15 and last approximately an hour and a half. You'll need to be fit enough to climb 120 steps, and be sure to check the rest of the health and safety notes before booking.

We took the tour on a sunny April day, and can highly recommend the mix of history and adventure. It's not a tour you should do if you have a fear of heights (or stairs), but otherwise you'll be thrilled.

The brown and white steeple of a church rises into a clear blue sky. A defoliated tree is in the foreground

The Islington Guides have an excellent track record at opening up tall buildings to visitors. We've previously recommended their tours of Canonbury Tower and the Caledonian Market clock tower.

All images by Matt Brown

Last Updated 14 May 2023