Posts Tagged ‘Regent St’

More West End 1987

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020
Dover St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5l-35-positive_2400

I can offer little explanation for this rather sad looking bust, odd cup and plates which my contact sheet says I photographed in Dover St. I think the odd cup in the foreground is actually an extremely naff clock, with the lower snake’s head pointing to the hour and the upper head to a disk showing minutes. In the unlikely event it was working I took this picture at around 11.58. What it lacks is a rod coming out of the top with an arm holding a small bird or fly whizzing around for the seconds.

I guess the guy in the background could be Titus or Vespasian; most of the other Emperors had fancier hair, at least in their busts. This one looks around life-size and could well be the sculptor’s grandfather but more likely a copy of an older figure. From the number of similar busts around I have a picture of circles of student sculptors around a bust in a gallery at perhaps the V&A, each chipping away at a block of marble as an exam piece. Whoever did this one would have deserved a decent grade.

Berkeley St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5l-56-positive_2400

More sculptures with two young stone ladies pretending to hold up a porch in Berkeley St. It looks a rather boring job. But although both seem to be scratching their heads they don’t appear to be putting a great deal of effort into it.

Ukrainian RC Cathedral, Duke St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5m-24-positive_2400

Whenever I see this building it amazes me that this gaudy and extravagant edifice was built as a Congregational Church, the King’s Weighouse Church, built in 1889-91 to the designs of Alfred Waterhouse, better known for his Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Congregationalists are Puritans, tracing their heritage back to the Brownists and the London Underground Church of the 1560s. Rejecting the ecclesiastical trappings at the centre of the Anglican Church – cathedrals, bishops, vestments, formal liturgies, priests, the sign of the cross and more – they espoused a simple austere faith based on the priesthood of all believers.

Of course over the years there was some back-tracking. But most Congregational church buildings remained suitable austere, often with at least a hint of the Classical – and some did it very finely but without great ornament. Sadly their practices deteriorated to the extent of allowing church choirs, though these consisted of adult members who considered they could sing, and organs. But as someone raised in the tradition (though no longer involved) I still fine the ornate nature of this building surprising.

Perhaps it was becuase the King’s Weighouse came from an older – and Royal tradition, tracing its ancestry back to Queen Matilda’s ‘Free Chapel’ at the Tower of London, founded by her in 1148 and not subject to the rule of any bishop. When the 1662 Act of Uniformity made the Book of Common Prayer and other aspects of Anglican practice compulsory almost the entire congregation left and shortly after began to worship as an independent congregation in an ancient building on Cornhill where foreign goods coming into London were weighed – the King’s Weigh House. They kept the name when they built their own chapel where Monument station now is, and later in other buildings, bringing it to Mayfair where they combined with a congregation already on this site and then built a new church.

Perhaps it was the influence of this building which in the 1920s led the church, then led by Rev Dr W. E. Orchard to moving towards Rome and developing what became known as ‘Free Catholicism’. The church never really recovered from wartime requisition and bomb damage and closed in the 1950s. Since June 1968  it has been the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of he Holy Family of Exile, which seems a far more suitable use for the building. You can read more about it on the Cathedral web site, from which much of the above comes.

Air St, Piccadilly, Westminster, 1987 87-5m-33-positive_2400

In Air Street we could almost be inside a cathedral. The rebuilding of the area around Piccadilly Circus was a subject of various proposals, plans and debates from around 1886 until 1928 which you can read in some detail in British History Online and possibly make more of than me. It involved many of the UK’s leading architects of the era, including Richard Norman Shaw and Sir Reginald Blomfield. I think that this section was built to Blomfield’s designs in 1923-8, but by that point in the text my eyes were fully glazed.

Regent St, Westminster, 1987 87-5m-34-positive_2400

In Regent St I was faced with the problem of photographing something which I find rather bland and boring – like most of the more monumental architecture of that period.

I found another curve to go with the two of the street, but I think it is no longer there – and many other details of the shops etc have changed. Bus Stop C is still there, but no longer served by Routemasters.

Christ Church, Cosway St, Marylebone, Westminster, 1987 87-5m-36-positive_2400

Christ Church in Cosway street, Marylebone was no longer a church when I took this picture having been made redundant in 1978 and converted into offices. This Grade II* church was built in 1824-5 by Thomas Hardwick and his son Philip Hardwick, one of the more interesting of the many cut-price Commissioner’s Churches built from 1820-1850 to cope with the rapid expansion of the urban population.

Despite the appearance it is a largely brick building with stone dressing. It was altered in 1887 by Sir A W Blomfield but I think this did not affect the portico or tower, a rather unusual construction, “3-stage tower with square Ionic peristyle with cylindrical core rising into octagonal cupola with volutes.”

More on page 4 of my album 1987 London Photos.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.