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Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Central London

by Peter Kessler, 7 August 2010

 

 

City of Westminster Part 6: Churches of Regent Street & Mayfair

St George Hanover Square

St George Hanover Square occupies a plot on the south-east corner of St George Street and Maddox Street, a short way to the west of Regent Street. The church was built in the early eighteenth century, to a design by John James (c.1673-1746), and was constructed under a project to build fifty new churches around London (the Queen Anne Churches). In 1724, the church gained a parish from St Martin-in-the-Fields which covered Mayfair, Belgravia, and Pimlico.

St George Hanover Square

The church's burial ground was located between Connaught Street and Bayswater Road, on the other side of Marble Arch. Due to its Mayfair location, it has been a frequent venue of high-society weddings. In the musical 'My Fair Lady', Eliza's father (Stanley Holloway in the film version), having just been provided with an inheritance, invites her (Audrey Hepburn) to his wedding at St George's, Hanover Square, before singing 'Get Me to the Church on Time'.

Salvation Army Regent Hall

Salvation Army Regent Hall bridges the divide between Princes Street and Oxford Street, lying close to Hanover Square on its southern side. This is one of the oldest Army centres in London, and was founded by William Booth in 1882. It is known colloquially as 'The Rink' because it was formerly a skating rink. The hall is known for its music, both for its own brass band which tours internationally, and as a venue for visiting artists. It was extensively refurbished in the early 2000s.

St Anselm Davies Street

St Anselm Davies Street formerly lay on, or very near, this south-east corner of Davies Street and St Anselm's Place, close to Grosvenor Square. A church was opened in 1823, and named Hanover Church Regent Street. It became a district church, but was later replaced by St Anselm, serving Berkeley Square. It gained its own parish in 1899, but was closed in 1938 and later demolished. The parish was united to Hanover Square (above) and St Mark North Audley Street (below).

Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile

The Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile is on the north-east corner of Duke Street and Weighhouse Street (formerly Robert Street). Queen Matilda founded the Free Chapel in 1148 near the Tower of London. In 1662, its congregation moved to Cornhill and then to a chapel at Monument, remaining until 1889. Merging with Robert Street Congregational Chapel, they opened the King's Weigh House Chapel in 1891. Later empty, it was taken over in 1968.

St Mark North Audley Street

St Mark North Audley Street stands on the eastern side of North Audley Street, opposite Green Street. This Regency church was opened in 1828 to serve the northern area of Berkley Square. Its parish was united to that of St George Hanover Square in 1968 (see above). St Mark closed about 1980 and was initially leased to the Commonwealth Church in 1995. More recently, it has been the subject of a campaign to save it for church use rather than business use.

Grosvenor Chapel

Grosvenor Chapel stands on the eastern side of South Audley Street, opposite Aldford Street. This chapel was built between 1730-1731 in the Classical style, with two tiers of arched windows and a portico over the pavement. Sir Richard Grosvenor, owner of the land, leased the site for ninety-nine years to a local builder, a member of a group of 'undertakers' who erected the church. The foundation stone was laid on 7 April 1730 and the work was finished in a year.

Grosvenor Chapel

The small tower contains a single bell and a clock, beneath a short spire. The architect was probably Benjamin Timbrell, and his work apparently inspired much church building in the English colonies of New England. The lease ran out in 1829, and the chapel was quickly made a chapel of ease to St George Hanover Square (see above). American serviceman and women frequented the chapel during the Second World War, and a tablet on the west wall commemorates that today.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception

The Church of the Immaculate Conception is on the northern side of Farm Street, midway between Chesterfield Hill and the western corner of Farm Street before it turns southwards. The church, which is also known as Farm Street Church, was opened in 1849 as the first to be run by the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits, a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church. Originally a simple Jesuit church, it became a parish church in 1966.

Third Church of Christ Scientist, London

Third Church of Christ Scientist, London lies on the northern side of Curzon Street, opposite Half Moon Street. Built by Lanchester & Rickards, who are best known for their design of Methodist Central Hall, the corner stone at the lower lefthand side of the door was laid on 9 July 1910. An extra floor was added in 1930, along with the tower. The original auditorium at the rear of the site was redeveloped as offices and apartments surrounding a courtyard.

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