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Gallery: Churches of Central London
by Peter Kessler, 28 November 2010
City of Westminster Part 9: Churches of
Westminster & Pimlico
The Cathedral Church of Westminster is on
the southern side of Victoria Street between Ambrosden Avenue and
Morpeth Terrace. The site was originally known as Bulinga Fen and
formed part of Westminster's marsh. It was reclaimed by the
Benedictine monks who built Westminster Abbey, and subsequently used
as a market and fairground. After the Reformation the land was largely
waste ground used for occasional events, before playing host to a
prison between 1651-1880.
The site was acquired by the Catholic Church
in 1884. The foundation stone for the cathedral, which was to
serve as the most senior Catholic church in Britain, was laid in
1895 and the building was designed in the Early Christian Byzantine
style by the Victorian architect John Francis Bentley. The work was
completed in 1903 and the cathedral dedicated to the Most Precious
Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The amazing interior of the cathedral
remains incomplete to this day.
St Andrew Ashley Place stood between
Ashley Place and Victoria Street, close to the corner of Carlisle
Place. The silver office block seen here, probably built in the
sixties, occupies the site today, on the southern side of Victoria
Street, a stone's throw from Victoria Railway Station. The church
was built in 1856 and gained its own parish in 1876. Closed in 1946
(probably due to bomb damage), it was demolished and its parish
united to St Peter, Eaton Square in 1953.
Salvation Army Citadel, Rochester Row is
squeezed between taller buildings on the southern side of the street,
opposite the entrance to Willow Place. Just when the citadel was built
is unknown, but a date around 1910 may not be too wide of the mark.
The citadel also provides a home for the 'Centre', a drop-in for
homeless and vulnerable people, also known as Rochester Row Day Centre.
A brass ensemble from Regent Hall played in 2010 for an open-air meeting
St James the Less Pimlico occupies a well-hidden
site on the south-west side of Vauxhall Bridge Road, opposite the entrance
to Osbert Street. The rear entrance is onto Thorndike Street (formerly
Upper Garden Street). The church was opened in 1862, built to the designs
of G E Street of the Royal Artillery. The edifice was founded by the
daughters of the late bishop of Gloucester and Bristol (Dr Monk) as
a memorial to their father, who was also a canon of Westminster Abbey.
The church is constructed of brick, with dressings of
stone, marble, and alabaster, and it consists of a nave, side aisles, a
semi-circular apse, and a lofty tower and spire. The roof of the chancel
is groined, and is a combination of brick and stone. The interior is
elaborately detailed. The chancel is surrounded by screens of brass and
iron, and over the chancel arch is a well-executed fresco. Since 1961,
the church has been surrounded by the Lillington Gardens estate.
Holy Trinity Vauxhall Bridge Road stood on the
south-west side of Vauxhall Bridge Road, opposite John Islip Street.
The church was built in 1849-1852 to designs by J L Pearson on land
donated by Thomas Cubitt. Also known as Holy Trinity Bessborough Gardens,
it was burnt out by enemy bombing during the Second World War. Closed in
1953 it was demolished a year later. Its parish was united with St James
the Less (above) and the site is now Bessborough Gardens.
St Saviour Pimlico stands on the south-east
corner of Lupus Street and St George's Square in Pimlico. This
Anglo-Catholic church was constructed between 1863-1864 to a design
by Thomas Cundy (who was also responsible for St Gabriel's). The build
was part of Thomas Cubitt's development of the area on behalf of the
marquis of Westminster. The Gothic church was built in ragstone to
emphasise the contrast with the classical stucco of its secular
The foundation stone was laid on 16 June 1863. It
has a spire which is just under fifty-two metres high (170 feet),
making it one of the tallest in London. The present organ was installed
in 1871, and the church was heavily restored in 1882, which saw the
galleries removed, the arcade work added to the sanctuary, and stained
glass fitted to the east window (shown in the previous photo). A clock
was added to the tower in 1895, and today the church is Grade II listed.
Holy Apostles Catholic Church sits on the
southern side of Winchester Street, just a few metres south-east of
the junction with Sussex Street. Although in the heart of London,
Pimlico was built only relatively late. Holy Apostles began life as
a chapel of ease in the former Claverton Street Methodist Chapel
from 1917. This was destroyed by bombing in 1941 and initially after
the war there was some trouble in gaining a new site, until the
present one was built upon in 1957.