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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 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,
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 bridges the divide
between Princes Street and Oxford Street, 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
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).
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 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 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 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.
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 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
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.