History Files


Modern Britain

Gallery: Churches of North London

by Peter Kessler, 1 May 2011



Camden Part 2: Churches of Holborn

Kingsgate Baptist Church

Kingsgate Baptist Church lies on the southern side of Catton Street, off Southampton Row, immediately north of Holborn Underground station. A Baptist church was founded here in 1736, and was known as Eagle Street Chapel until 1856, when the present building was erected on the same spot. A memorial stone was placed on the corner of the main road by Alexander MacLaren, president of the Baptist Union, on 24 April 1901. The church closed well before 2010.

Roman Catholic Church of St Anselm & St Caecilia

The Roman Catholic Church of St Anselm & St Caecilia is on the corner of Twyford Place and Kingsway. Catholics had been worshipping in the old Chapel of the Royal Sardinian Embassy since before 1720. By the early 1800s it had openly become the parish church for British Catholics who lived in the congested area around Lincoln's Inn Fields. The present church, which was very much part of the famous Kingsway development of the Edwardian era, opened in 1909.

Holy Trinity Kingsway

Holy Trinity Kingsway lies a little set back on the western side of Kingsway, almost opposite Holborn Underground station. The church originally opened in 1829 as Holy Trinity Lincoln's Inn Fields. It gained its parish and independence from St Giles-in-the-Fields in 1884. Its site on Little Queen Street was greatly redeveloped as Kingsway in the first decade of the twentieth century, and as a result the church gradually came to be known by its later name.

Holy Trinity Kingsway

Unfortunately, part of that redevelopment work involved tunnelling operations underneath the church to construct the Great Northern, Piccadilly & Brompton Railway (the present Piccadilly Line). This undermined the church's foundations and it had to be demolished. The present building was its replacement, put up in 1909-1911. In 1938 the church absorbed the parish of St John Drury Lane, but falling congregations meant that it too had to be closed, the axe falling in 1986.

Lincoln's Inn Chapel

Lincoln's Inn Chapel lies at the rear of Old Square, Lincoln's Inn. In 1619-1623 the present chapel was built here to replace a former, small, chapel which had become ruinous. One of the four Inns of Court, Lincoln's Inn is situated to the south of Holborn. Henry Lacey, earl of Lincoln, obtained the site about 1226, demolished the existing building, and built a stately mansion for his city residence. Sometime before his death in 1310 he introduced the study of law here.

Gray's Inn Chapel

Gray's Inn Chapel stands within the grounds of Gray's Inn Fields, on the eastern side, bordering Gray's Inn Road in Holborn, with the rear window (shown here in 1892) visible from the road. In 1314 the Priory & Convent of St Bartholomew in Smithfield took responsibility for providing a priest to serve the chapel of the manor of Portpoole, home of the de Greys family and later Gray's Inn. Following rebuilding in 1893, the chapel suffered war damage and was rebuilt in the 1950s.

Church of St Alban the Martyr

The Church of St Alban the Martyr Holborn is sandwiched between Baldwins Gardens and Brooke's Court, immediately to the east of Lincoln's Inn Fields. The church was built by the architect William Butterfield in 1863. He was a Gothic Revival architect who was associated with the Oxford Movement (which was responsible for the Chapel of the House of St Barnabas-in-Soho of 1846). The son of nonconformist parents, most of his buildings were for religious use.

Church of St Alban the Martyr

In April 1941 the church was largely destroyed by firebombs during the Blitz. After the war Adrian Gilbert Scott (1882-1963), who came from a family with a long tradition as architects, designed the present building. but incorporated several features of the old building that had survived the fire including the saddleback tower. The new church was consecrated in 1961. The most prominent internal feature is the mural on the east wall by the painter Hans Feibusch.

St Peter the Great Saffron Hill

St Peter the Great Saffron Hill stood probably near St Cross Street (shown on the right), but the exact location unknown. The church was built between 1830-1832, during the northwards expansion of London. However, it stood unfavourably in the narrow lane of the hill, surrounded by a close neighbourhood. The church was severely damaged during the Blitz, and its organ was entirely destroyed. The remains of the building were subsequently demolished.

St Peter's Italian Catholic Church

St Peter's Italian Catholic Church (Chiesa Italiana di San Pietro) is on the northern side of Clerkenwell Road, opposite the entrance to Hatton Garden. It is the oldest church for Italians in London. Modelled on the Basilica of San Crisogono in Rome, the church was consecrated in 1863. Architect John Miller Bryson worked from plans drawn by Francesco Gualandi of Bologna. The church was restored in 1959, following its return to Italian control, and again in 1995.

One photo on this page contributed by iTravel.co.uk.

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