Esoteric London

No. 978: Adelaide Street, WC2

Posted in Architectural, Churches, Public Art, Wartime London by esotericlondon on November 27, 2013

© Roger Dean RED_5552 copy copy

St Martin-in-the-Fields, Adelaide Street, London, WC2. Photo © Roger Dean 2013

Curiosities of London, Exhibiting the Most Rare and Remarkable Objects of Interest in the Metropolis; with Nearly Sixty Years Personal Recollections – By John Timbs, 1867:

ST. MARTIN’S-IN-THE-FIELDS

The present church was consecrated in 1726: the cost of its erection was 36,891l. 10s. 4d. Its length, including the portico, is equal to twice its width: it is in the florid  Roman or Italian style, and has a very fine western Corinthian hexastyle portico: the east end is truly elegant, and the round columns  at each angle of the building render it very effective in profile. The rower and spire rise out of the roof, behind the portico.  The interior is richly ornamented, “a little too gay and theatrical for Protestant worship.”  In 1842, 45 feet of the spire were struck by lightning, and had to be restored at the expense of 1000l.: the ball and vane were also regilt; the latter is 6 feet 8 inches high  and 5 feet long, and is surmounted with a crown, to denote this the parish of the Sovereign; and in its registers are entered the births of the royal children born t Buckingham Palace. The tower has a fine peal of twelve bells; but the story of Nell Gwynne having left a legacy, paid weekly to the ringers, has no foundation in fact. High in the steeple hangs a small shrill bell, formerly called the Sanctus, and now the Saint’s or Parson’s Bell. “It was rung before the Reformation, when the priest came to the Sanctus, ‘Holy,  holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth!’ so that those without the church might participate  in the devotions of those present  at the most solemn part of the divine office.” – The Parish Choir, No. 59.

[The above image shows the East Window of St-Martin-in-the-Fields viewed from outside in Adelaide Street. It was commissioned in 2008 to permanently replace the window shattered by bombs during WWII. Designed by the female Iranian artist Shirazeh Houshiary it floods the once dim interior with light whilst also reminding one of the Church of England’s slowly changing approach to gender, race and sexuality. R.D.]

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