A local landmark and focal point in a prominent position. It stands on an island surrounded by roads and housing and its spire is clearly visible to runners as they get their legs moving in Mile 1.
London is the world’s greatest marathon. The course starts in beautiful Greenwich Park and passes many famous London sights, including churches, before finishing in front of Buckingham Palace. The runners won’t have time to stop, but we hope you do.
As the runners settle into Mile 2 they pass the Parish House. They will probably fly by too fast to notice the blue plaque on the wall, the house was once home to Baron Sir William Congreve, the father of modern rocket technology. He also invented decimal currency and an efficient steam engine. King George IV also frequently visited and partied here.
At the start of Mile 4 is St Mary Magdalene with its expansive public garden, a great place for family and friends to do some early cheering on! It was designed in 1893 by Fanny Wilkinson, Britain's first professional woman landscape gardener.
Once you’ve cheered on your runner past the Mile 6 marker, why not indulge in some peace and quiet in the Christ Church peace garden. If you’re lucky there might even be tea and cake!
Coming down the long straight of Trafalgar Road in Mile 7 be spurred on by the magnificent site of the white tower of St Alfege, Greenwich. There has been a church here for over a 1000 years and Henry VIII was baptised here in 1491. After enjoying the green space of the Naval College runners pass Cutty Sark, one of the first major landmarks on the route.
After the first water crossing, little Deptford Creek, and into Mile 8. Our runners might be starting to feel the burn so a little Queen Anne inspiration on passing one of London’s finest Baroque buildings will do the trick. If you’re not running, be sure to pop in. St Paul’s is the most historic building in Deptford, with connections to the town's key role in the navy and shipyard economy.
Peeking through the trees in an especially leafy part of Docklands at Mile 9 is the curved copper roof of Holy Trinity. The original Holy Trinity was destroyed in the London Blitz. Thomas Ford’s new church is a fine example of 1950s architecture.
By Mile 10 our runners could probably do with popping into the Finnish Church in London, to visit their famous sauna. Unfortunately, it will have to wait. But those of who aren’t being timed could at least relax in the delicious cafe!
Perhaps the dragon of Bermondsey will spur on any flagging runners at Mile 11. Be sure to look up to spot him riding calmly atop the steeple of the finest of the Waterloo churches, designed by James Savage.
At the edge of Mile 11 is the huge brick edifice of Most Holy Trinity church. It’s an impressive and solid looking building, with polychrome brickwork and concrete, unlike any other church our runners will see.
After a triumphant crossing of Tower Bridge the next highlight in Mile 12 is St George in the East. In the 1850s, there was a protest against the Bishop of London, the local congregation cat called and blew horns, some brought barking dogs. If you’re spectating, take this as inspiration and make some noise for the runners!
The spire and open round tower of St Paul’s is visible on the right as soon as runners round the slight corner from St George in the East. Known as the church of Sea Captains due to the many mariners in the congregation, including Captain James Cook, it’s now a beacon to weary runners hitting the halfway mark in Mile 13.
Rounding the corner into Canary Wharf and into Mile 16 our runners pass the newest church on the route. Opened in October 2018, St Luke’s has an incredible needle point spire and is a new place of welcome, hospitality and hope for the people of the Isle of Dogs.
You could be forgiven for running past this one, as the lovely brick exterior blends well with surrounding buildings.
Running through Mile 18 at Canary Wharf it’s possible to get a quick glance of London’s only floating church, St Peter’s Barge! Possibly the most unique church on our route, it caters to both weekday workers and weekend residents.
Stand aside midwives, runners coming through. Just about visible on the right hand side of Mile 19 is the impressive granite and Portland stone church of All Saints.
A lovely spot for families to watch the runners go by at Mile 21, St Anne’s has lots of green space for little ones to run around (excuse the pun). You may recognise this church, it’s appeared in film and on television; including 28 Days Later, Legend, and Call the Midwife.
The wonderful painted ‘steering Christ’ will guide our runners through Mile 21. The statue is designed to be seen from the Limehouse Basin and the Thames.
After the long straight run back through Shadwell the welcome site of the familiar Tower of London looms in Mile 22. The Tower is the most visited heritage site in the country, but it’s hidden secret is the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, a special and unique place of worship with an extraordinary history.
Gearing up for the final few miles, our runners now pass the oldest church in the City of London. The very stones exude endurance and must surely help those who might be struggling. In the crypt a second century Roman pavement has survived for nearly two thousand years, imagine who might have run across it!
If you’ve ever wandered around the City of London on a weekend, you’ll know it’s an oddly serene place. Even with all the marathon spectators there’s one where you’ll feel secluded, a place as beautiful as it is tranquil: the bombed out ruins of the church of St Dunstan in the East.
Our runners will be feeling the burn by Mile 23. The original church on this spot, founded in the early 12th century, was one of the first buildings to be destroyed by the Great Fire. Pudding Lane is just 300m away, the perfect place to feel the pavement heating up beneath your feet.
Some of our slower runners might get chance to glance right here, through the gardens and catch a glimpse of the place where the fabled Lord Mayor of London is buried. Don’t let his cat trip you up, he’s a mischievous looking thing!
Check your time on the church's unique clock! The stretch of river close by St James was London's most important hythe, landing place, with garlic unloaded here and traded on Garlick Hill, where the church stands. Nowadays, if you catch as whiff as you run through to Mile 24 it’s likely to be from one of the restaurants nearby.
Croeso i redwyr!
Queen Victoria granted permission to use the building for services in Welsh in the 1870s but there has been a church here since the 12th century. Shakespeare refers to it and both Anne Boleyn and Lady Jane Grey may have received the last rites here.
If you feel you’re tried by Mile 24 and reading the name wrongly, don’t worry the name goes back to the 14th century, when Edward IV decided to move his state robes and regal paraphernalia to the Great Wardrobe near St Paul's. Shakespeare, John Dowland, Ben Jonson and Van Dyck have been among its parishioners.
Not strictly on the route, but runners will see the magnificent dome of St Paul’s rising above other buildings. For more than 1,400 years, a cathedral dedicated to St Paul has stood at the highest point in the city. The present building is the masterpiece of Britain's most famous architect Sir Christopher Wren. When our runners legs are recovered they could climb the 528 steps to the Whispering Gallery.
After a long stretch down the embankment, our runners pass two churches at once. Least well known is the parish church of St Margaret, founded in the 12th century for local people (nearby Westminster Abbey was a monastery church). Sometimes called the ‘parish church of the House of Commons’, it forms part of a single World Heritage Site with the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey.
In Mile 25, before heading towards the finish line at Buckingham Palace our runners pass Westminster Abbey. It presents a unique pageant of British history; the shrine of St Edward the Confessor, the tombs of kings and queens, and countless memorials to the famous and the great, it has been the setting for every Coronation since 1066 and for numerous other royal occasions. A fitting end to our route!