St Giles-in-the-Fields is on the south-west
corner of St Giles High Street and Flitcroft Street. The first church
on this site was founded as part of a leper hospital by Queen Matilda
(wife of Henry I) in 1101. The chapel probably became the church for a
small village, which serviced the hospital, with the lepers screened off.
The hospital was dissolved in 1539 and its lands sold. The former chapel
became the parish church, and the first rector was appointed in 1547.
The earliest illustration shows a church with a round
tower, capped by a dome - itself replaced by a larger spire in 1617. Shortly
afterwards the church was considered ruinous and a Gothic brick church was
built between 1623-1630. Less than a century later, the new church was itself
in a poor condition from damp, probably caused by the large number of Plague
victim burials. Henry Flitcroft built the present church in 1734. Inside is
Wesley's pulpit from West Street Chapel.
Soho Baptist Chapel is on the corner of Shaftsbury
Avenue and Mercer Street, immediately south of St Giles. Probably built in
1882, this church is one of a handful that has been renamed twice. Few firm
conclusions can be drawn as to why the church has inscribed on it both
Gower Street Chapel and Shaftesbury Chapel as well as the
current name. It is thought that it may have been the centre of disputes
amongst the early Baptist communities in Central London.
Christ Church lies on the western side of Endell
Street. The church was constructed in 1845 in the Early English style. It
stood close to Bloomsbury Workhouse and gained its parish from part of that
of St Giles. It was declared redundant and closed in 1929. The parish was
re-united to St Giles, and part of the proceeds of the sale of the site went
towards building St Michael, Tokyngton, in north-west London. Christ Church's
furniture and fittings also went there.
Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church is at the corner
of Bloomsbury Street and Bucknall Street. It opened as Bloomsbury
Chapel on 5 December 1848, the first Baptist chapel to stand proudly on a
London street. Due to earlier restrictions on non-Anglican churches, and for
reasons of economy, meeting-houses had formerly been hidden down back alleys
and in upper rooms. Twin spires graced the towers until they were found to be
unsafe and were removed in 1951.
The Church of St George Bloomsbury lies on
the northern side of Bloomsbury Way, just east of the junction with New
Oxford Street. The Commissioners for the Fifty New Churches Act
of 1711 appointed Nicholas Hawksmoor, a pupil and former assistant
of Sir Christopher Wren, to design and build this church on land
purchased from the widow of Lord John Russell. The grand Baroque
church was consecrated in 1730 by Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London.
Despite the grandeur of Hawksmoor's design, the parish
vestrymen felt that his completed church did not provide sufficient
accommodation for the parish, so the church was re-orientated along a
north-south axis in 1781. In 1913, St Georgeís the church was the
setting for the memorial service for Emily Davison, the suffragette
who threw herself under the kingís horse in the Derby. From 1956-1968,
St Georgeís Bloomsbury served as the University of Londonís church.
St George the Martyr Holborn occupies the south-west
corner of Queen Square and Cosmo Place in Bloomsbury, a short way north
of St George Bloomsbury. The church was built as a chapel of ease in 1704
and opened in 1706. It was quite simple and elegant in design, with a
beautiful grey stone tower. It gained its own parish in 1723. In 1867 it
was drastically altered by S S Teulon when a chancel was formed on the south
side (the north side is shown to the right of the photo).
At the same time, in 1867, the pews and most of the
galleries were removed, the windows enlarged and given new tracery, a
new spire was built and the insides refitted. Sometimes incorrectly
referred to as St George's Bloomsbury, the church now serves as a
community church in the Bloomsbury and Holborn areas. It is noted for
its historic organ and many interior details, as well as its work with
the poorer members of the Bloomsbury community.
St John the Evangelist Red Lion Square
formerly stood on Red Lion Square, immediately to the north-east
of Holborn Underground station. The church itself probably occupied
the space opposite Dane Street, on the southern side of the present
square. The church was opened in 1875 and gained its parish from
that of St George the Martyr (above). It was rendered unusable by
bombing in the Second World War and in 1952 the parish was united
to St George, Bloomsbury.