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Churches of the British Isles

Gallery: Churches of Central London

by Peter Kessler, 7 August 2010

City of Westminster Part 5: Churches of Soho & Regent Street

La Quarré French Church, City of Westminster, London

In 1694, La Quarré French Church (founded 1690) moved to this site on Berwick Street, close to the corner with Broadwick Street. In 1709 Le Quarré was joined by the Swallow Street Church congregation. The church moved to Little Dean Street (now Bourchier Street) and closed about 1850. One other, Le Tabernacle French Church, was in use in 1692-1695, and in 1696 was acquired by L'Église de Leicester Fields, in Orange Street. This apparently ended about 1720.

St Luke Berwick Street, City of Westminster, London

St Luke Berwick Street stood on the western side of Berwick Street, between Tylers Court to the east and Ingestre Place (formerly Husband Street) to the west. In 1839 it was built on the site of La Vieille Patente French Chapel (built 1689, but empty by 1707), and gained its own parish in 1863. Closed in 1935 and demolished a year later, the site now houses a sixties development called Kemp House (on the left here), with a mixture of shops, offices and flats.

City Gates, City of Westminster, London

City Gates is at 7 Greens Court, a narrow alleyway off Peter Street, immediately south of Berwick Street. The alley is busy despite its rather unappealing appearance, complete with a cafe and exterior tables further down. This Evangelical charismatic church has been meeting in Central London since 1985, but it also meets in small groups all over London, utilising member's homes and a scattering of small missions such as this one to serve as regional headquarters.

St Anne's Church, Soho, City of Westminster, London

St Anne's Soho is between Wardour Street and Dean Street. Construction began on Soho Fields in 1677, and on 21 March 1686 the building was consecrated by Bishop Henry Compton as the new parish church for Soho, taken from St Martin's-in-the-Fields. The design was by either William Talman or Christopher Wren (or perhaps both), while the name was in honour of the future Queen Anne. The church was of the basilica type, with a tower of twenty-one metres in height.

St Anne's Church, Soho, City of Westminster, London

In 1801 the now unstable tower was rebuilt. On 24 September 1940, enemy bombing left the church a burned-out shell, apart from the tower. The east wall on Dean Street was demolished in 1953 and built up with shop fronts (seen here), but the tower served as a chapel and was fully restored in 1990-1991, when the entire remaining church was restored. Parts of the churchyard around the tower and west end are now the public park of St Anne's Gardens.

St Peter's Church, Great Windmill Street, City of Westminster, London

St Peter Great Windmill Street stood on, or close to, the north-west corner of that and Archer Street. Great Windmill Street was built up in the 1670s, and by 1854 plans were being made to build a church here, requiring the demolition of three older properties. Construction was in 1860-1861, designed by Raphael Brandon, and the church gained its own parish in 1864. The church was closed and demolished in 1954, and its parish united to St Anne's Soho (see above).

St James' Church, Piccadilly, City of Westminster, London

St James' Church Piccadilly is on the north-west corner of Jermyn Street and Church Place. In 1662, Henry Jermyn, First Earl of St Albans, was granted land for residential development on what was then the outskirts of London. He set aside land for the building of a parish church and churchyard on the south side of what is now Piccadilly. The church was designed and built by Sir Christopher Wren, with the appointment being made in 1672 and consecration taking place in 1684.

St James' Church, Piccadilly, City of Westminster, London

Built of red brick with Portland stone dressings, the church's interior has galleries on three sides supported by square pillars, and the nave has a barrel vault supported by Corinthian columns. The carved marble font and limewood reredos are both good examples of the work of Grinling Gibbons. William Blake was baptised at the church in 1757, but the building was severely damaged by enemy action in 1940, during the Second World War. Thankfully, it was fully repaired.

Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory Catholic Church, City of Westminster, London

Our Lady of the Assumption & St Gregory Catholic Church is on the eastern side of Warwick Street. A Portuguese embassy Catholic chapel was here by 1747 (later Bavarian). The chapel was severely damaged during the Gordon Riots of 1780. The present chapel opened on 12 March 1790. In 1854 it became an Anglican parish church, although still known as the Bavarian Chapel until the early 1900s, and is now the only remaining Catholic embassy chapel of its period.

St Thomas' Church, Regent Street, City of Westminster, London

St Thomas Regent Street stood on the north-west corner of Kingly Street and Tenison Court. It was erected as a proprietary chapel in 1702 by Dr Thomas Tenison, archbishop of Canterbury, on the site of an earlier wooden tabernacle or oratory which he had erected about fifteen years before. The chapel became a district church in 1869 and was then dedicated to St Thomas. It was also known as the Archbishop Tenison Chapel. It closed in 1954 and was demolished.

All photos on this page by P L Kessler.



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