A church has stood here since 1012, on the traditional site of the martyrdom of St Alfege. He was Archbishop of Canterbury and killed by Viking raiders on 19 April 1012.
A new church was built around 1290 but the building, undermined by burials, collapsed in a great storm in 1710. The parishioners petitioned the Commission to provide money for rebuilding the church; it became the first of the series that Hawksmoor designed.
The Hawksmoor designed church was built between 1712 – 14 and consecrated on 29 September 1718. Hawksmoor built the church incorporating the tower left still standing from the old church, but in 1730 John James encased the tower and added a steeple in the style of Wren.
The church was gutted by fire in 1941 during the Blitz and was restored by Sir Albert Richardson and rededicated on 18 April 1953.
General James Wolfe (the hero of Quebec)
was buried here, and General Gordon (overwhelmed by the Mahdi at Khartoum) was baptised here.