History Files
 

 

Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of Central London

by Peter Kessler, 28 November 2010

 

 

City of Westminster Part 8: Churches of Westminster

St Matthew's Westminster

St Matthew's Westminster is on the northern side of Great Peter Street, with access to the east onto St Anne's Street. With the population of Westminster growing rapidly in the eighteenth century St John Smith Square was built, but it became apparent that this was not enough. The area around Great Peter Street had deteriorated by the 1840s and people lived in poor conditions. In response, as one of four new regional churches, St Matthew's was built in 1849.

St Matthew's Westminster

Sir George Gilbert Scott supplied the design. Consecrated in 1851, it was later enriched with fittings and glass by G F Bodley, C E Kempe & Co, and others. The money was never found to add the proposed spire to the tower, but the Lady Chapel is one of Sir Ninian Compers' finest early works. Gutted by fire in 1977 the church was reconstructed to a reduced plan and rededicated in 1984. The new parish centre now obscures the church on the corner with St Ann's Street.

Westminster Baptist Church

Westminster Baptist Church occupies a plot on the northern side of Horseferry Road, approximately fifty metres east of the junction with Regency Street. The church was founded in 1807, although the premises which it occupied at that date are unknown. The church moved to the current site in 1935, perhaps converting this building from secular use. In 2009 the building was renovated. Unfortunately, little data is available on the church or the buildings it has owned.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Sacred Heart Catholic Church is on the northern side of Horseferry Road, opposite Regency Street, a few doors west of the Baptist church. It was built as Westminster Wesleyan Chapel about 1874. In 1927 it was sold and donated by the new owner to the archdiocese of Westminster. In 1939 plans were submitted for the Convent of the Sacred Heart to be built but the church was destroyed on 14 March 1944 by enemy action. It was reconstructed in 1962-1963.

The Church of St Mary the Virgin Tothill Fields

The Church of St Mary the Virgin Tothill Fields stood on the western corner of Vincent Square, a large space of ground covering about ten acres, which once formed part of Tothill Fields. The church was consecrated in October 1837 to the designs of Edward Blore, and gained its own parish in 1843. Probably due to falling attendances, it closed in 1923 and was demolished. Today only the entrance gateposts remain. It was sometimes referred to as Tothill Fields Church.

St Stephen Rochester Row

St Stephen Rochester Row stands on the eastern side of Rochester Row, between Rochester Street and Vincent Square, opposite a row of almshouses. The church was built between 1847-1850 by Miss Angela Burdett-Coutts, of the Coutts banking family, as a memorial to her father, with encouragement from Charles Dickens, her friend. The church, in fourteenth century Decorated Gothic style, was designed by the architect Benjamin Ferrey, a pupil of the elder Pugin.

St Stephen Rochester Row

A tower and spire were added on the northern side, nearly sixty-one metres high. A ring of eight bells was cast by Charles and George Mears in 1850 and was hung in the new tower in a new frame. The bells were donated to the church by Angela Burdett-Coutts (later to become a baroness). These bells were replicated in the ring at New Westminster Cathedral, Canada, and were also given by Baroness Burdett-Coutts (although they have since been destroyed).

Christ Church Broadway

Christ Church Broadway lay on the northern side of Victoria Street, on the western corner with Broadway. As early as the thirteenth century St Mary Magdalene Chapel stood in the area then known as Tutle or Tothill Fields. During the Dissolution the chapel and lands in Tothill Fields were placed under the control of Westminster Abbey. By 1598 the chapel was apparently ruinous. The New Chapel was built in December 1626, but it only opened in 1642.

Christ Church Broadway

During the Commonwealth period the chapel was used as a stables and a jail, remaining unconsecrated until after the Restoration. By the early 1800s it had fallen into disrepair and was demolished. Christ Church Broadway was built on the site, designed by early Gothic revival architect Ambrose Poynter. Consecrated in 1843, on 17 April 1941 it was gutted by German incendiaries. The remnants were demolished in 1954 and just part of the churchyard retained as the present park.

Westminster Chapel

Westminster Chapel stands southern side of Buckingham Gate, opposite Petty France. The chapel is an Evangelical church that has been based in central London since 1840. The present building was opened on 6 July 1865, founded by Congregationalists. It was pastored by the late Dr D Martyn Lloyd-Jones in 1939-1968. During this period the church resigned from the Congregational Union and became a member of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches.

In Depth
In Depth
 

 

     
Copyright
Images and text copyright all contributors mentioned on this page. An original feature for the History Files.