- Learn all about the history and British tradition of brass rubbings in the London Brass Rubbing Centre, located inside the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields.
- Choose from over 100 different brass plaques collected from churches and cathedrals all over the UK to take a rubbing from.
- There are many other events going on at St Martin-in-the-Fields, including family trails and musical concerts.
If you’re looking for fun things to do with children in the city, check out the London Brass Rubbing Centre at St Martin-in-the-Fields, just off Trafalgar Square. Here creative families can have a go at the Victorian pastime in the ambience of the medieval church. There are other fun activities to take part in, such as exploring the church with a self-guided family tour and attending one of the many musical events that take place there. A visit here will make for an enjoyable creative day out that will let the family interact with history and old British traditions.
Brass rubbing was a very commonplace practise between the 13th and 16th centuries. The British public would often take a brass rubbing of plaques and monuments as a memento of their visit to a church. The process is very simple; all that’s needed is a sheet of paper and some graphite, waxy crayon or chalk. The paper is then placed on the brass piece and the drawing instrument of the visitor’s choice is rubbed all over the page to get an imprint of the plaque beneath. Over the centuries this activity caused erosion and wear on the monuments, however the public desire for rubbings was still strong. This is why in many churches across the UK you can see replicas of the monuments, so visitors could take brass rubbings without damaging the actual pieces.
Brass rubbing is not a hobby often found in the 21st century, however St Martin-in-the-Fields has created a programme to keep the tradition alive. The London Brass Rubbing Centre is located in this stunning church and invites the public to try their hand at brass rubbing. There is a collection of over 100 brass rubbing replicas taken from churches and cathedrals all over the UK to choose from. These plaques have many unique decorative designs, from fire-breathing dragons to William Shakespeare. After seeing these stunning monuments it will be clear why everyone in Britain wanted to take a piece of these items home! The knowledgeable staff is always on hand to help and answer any questions you may have about brass rubbings or the St Martin-in-the-Fields church in general. It is a brilliant activity that allows the family to get in touch with their creative side as well as bringing history to life.
Other fun family activities in the church includes the free family trails. Explore the building and discover facts about the architecture, history and the people behind it. Music is also a huge part of life here, with weekly concerts being held to share joy and strengthen the community. The Jazz Nights, choir performances and the Great Sacred Music series are all examples of the wonderful musical events that take place here every week. Have a look online for any upcoming events to see if anything takes your interest, any one of these events could be a wonderful first concert for your children.
What to know before you go
- St Martin-in-the-Fields is open every day except Mondays and Thursdays.
- The brass rubbing activities take place all day up until an hour before closing time.
- The St Martin-in-the-Fields Cafe in the Crypt is a hidden gem of London. Here visitors can enjoy home-cooked meals in the ambience of the church. There is also a brass rubbing and afternoon tea package deal which visitors can book online.
- There is a gift shop, through which visitors can support the church by picking up a unique souvenir.
- Toilets, including wheelchair accessible ones, and baby-changing facilities are available on site.
- St Martin-in-the-Fields is fully accessible for wheelchair users with level access throughout the building. There is a ramp on the north side of the church and a lift that brings visitors to and from the crypt.
- Induction loops and large print guides are available for those who may need them.
- Assistance dogs are welcome on site.
How to get there
- The London Brass Rubbing Centre is found in St Martin-in-the-Fields church, just off Trafalgar Square.
- The closest station is Charing Cross (Bakerloo and Northern lines and rail services), just a few minutes' walk. Leicester Square station (Northern and Piccadilly lines) is about a five-minute walk too.
- The following bus routes all have stops near the church; 3, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 23, 24, 29 53, 87, 88, 91, 139, 159, 176 and 453.
- There is no designated car park available at the church. Visitors are asked to find parking in the streets nearby.