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This site was originally occupied by a church dedicated to St. Edmund the Martyr, King of East Anglia, but by the time of the Crusades the church had become known as 'St. Edmund and the Holy Sepulchre', named for the Holy Sepulchre of Christ in Jerusalem.
The tower and outer walls of the church were built around 1450, but the main body of the church was gutted by the Great Fire of London and was subsequently rebuilt in 1670-1. Internal alterations took place during the 19th and 20th Centuries.
In the south aisle of the church lie the remains of Captain John Smith, known for his adventures in Virginia in 1607, his rescue from death by Princess Pochahontas and his subsequent honours as President of the Council of Virginia and Admiral of New England.
Interred in the Musicians' Chapel are the ashes of Sir Henry Wood who founded the Promenade Concerts (Proms) which are the world's longest running series of orchestral concerts.