Take a blissful break in the iconic St Martin in the Fields church. This quiet oasis in Trafalgar Square is a must see in London. From the free lunchtime concerts and superb scones at the Cafe in the Crypt, to the magnificent architecture, admirable charity work, and the atmospheric crypt, this is the perfect place to escape the city crowds.
St Martin in the Fields church
How to get to St Martin-in-the-Fields
You couldn’t really get a more central location in London than Trafalgar Square.
This is where the Hop On Hop Off buses start their routes, where you can enjoy the fountains, sculptures and Nelson’s Column of the square and the grand architecture and exquisite collection of the National Gallery.
On the east side of the square (on your right as you look at the National Gallery) is St Martin in the Fields church.
Catch a train and get off at Charing Cross or Leicester Square. Or one of the innumerable buses that pass Trafalgar Square in all directions.
Access to the crypt below the church is via stairs or lift, so is stroller and wheelchair friendly. Toilets and baby change facilities are available.
Find more awesome things to do in London with kids here.
Atmospheric and kid-friendly Cafe in the Crypt
The crypt underground beneath the church is a wonderfully atmospheric place for a coffee or meal. The vaulted brick ceiling arches above your head and you’re likely to walk across historic tombstones worn down with age and thousands of feet.
The menu is highly affordable with my top pick being the St Martin’s Afternoon Tea. For less than £10 you can enjoy sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, cakes, desserts and a pot of tea. Buy two and share with the kids, or, for something smaller, a scone with jam and cream will set you back less than £5. Hearty hot lunches, sandwiches and soups are also available.
There’s plenty of fancier afternoon teas to be had in London, but for kid-friendly value you can’t beat this. Plus you don’t have to dress up in fancy high tea outfits like these!
Although the church and cafe are completely kid-friendly, on our most recent trip I managed to escape for a kid-free coffee in the crypt with a girlfriend.
Free lunchtime concerts in the church
The church itself is just lovely and such a tranquil spot to listen to beautiful music.
On Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays free lunchtime concerts are a peaceful way to rest your feet in the middle of a busy day exploring London. Evening concerts and family-focussed concerts round out a substantial musical program.
Use the self-guided Children’s Trail to capture the kids’ interest.
Brass rubbing for kids
The traditional souvenir from a church is to make a rubbing from ancient brass plaques, often found on the floor. St Martin’s has taken this Victorian habit and brought it into the sustainable and family-friendly 21st century by creating over 100 brass replicas from churches and cathedrals all over the UK, like St George’s Chapel in Windsor.
Let the kids choose their favourite and make their own rubbing with paper and a wax crayon. The designs are often quite intricate and dramatic with dragons, knights and princesses. They make for a wonderful souvenir that can easily be tucked into your suitcase. And by using the replicas the historic originals are preserved.
The souvenir shop has a particularly artistic and creative range of treasures with all profits going to the good works of the church.