religious, concert/performance space, restaurant/bar
James Gibbs, 1726
Trafalgar Square , WC2N 4JH
One of Britain's finest churches, built in the Italian Baroque tradition and beautifully restored in 2008. Sustainable features include new heating and management systems and lightwell. RIBA Award Winner 2009. Civic Trust Award Winner 2010.
Leicester Square, Charing Cross
11, 24, 29, 87, 91
RAMP ACCESS TO MAIN BUILDING. LIFT ACCESS TO LOWER TIERS OF BUILDING.
St Martin-in-the-Fields is a landmark. Its fine architecture and prominent location place it at the heart of the nation. Its work has valued historic tradition, but St Martin's has always been innovative in response to changing needs. From London's first free lending library to the first religious broadcast, St Martin's has broken new ground in defining what it means to be a church.
There is no official reference to a church on the site of St Martin's until Norman times, when in 1222 a dispute was recorded between William, Abbot of Westminster, and Eustace, Bishop of London on the Bishop's authority over the church. The Archbishop of Canterbury decided in favour of the abbot and St Martin's, then surrounded by fields, appears to have been used by the monks of Westminster.
In around 1542, Henry VIII, as ruthless with the monks as with his wives, built a new church and extended the parish boundaries to keep plague victims from being carried through his palace. This was enlarged in 1607 at the cost of Prince Henry, the son of King James I. This church was pulled down in 1721 to be replaced by the current building.
The present church was designed by James Gibbs and completed in 1726. It has become one of the most significant ecclesiastical buildings in the English-speaking world. In the 19th century, whilst planning Trafalgar Square, John Nash created Church Path and the range of buildings to the north. St Martin's has always been at the heart of London, offering continued service amidst an ever-changing city.
The work of this church today is informed by the practical Christianity exemplified in the life of its patron saint. Martin, after a career in the Roman army, entered the Christian Church and became Bishop of Tours. He is remembered for an instinctive act of generosity, sharing his cloak with a beggar. Paradoxically, the ultimate blessing was given to Martin by the beggar, who returned to him in a dream as Christ.
The example of St Martin was followed by Dick Sheppard, Vicar of St Martin's during World War I, who gave refuge to soldiers on their way to France. He saw St Martin's as 'the church of the ever open door'. The doors have remained open ever since.
St Martin's fight against homelessness was formalised with the foundation of the Social Service Unit in 1948. The work continues today through The Connection at St Martin's, which cares for around 7,500 individuals each year.
Changing needs in society were again evident in the 1960s. St Martin's was concerned for the welfare of new arrivals in the emerging Chinatown and welcomed a Chinese congregation. Today, the Ho Ming Wah Chinese People's Day Centre provides vital services for the Chinese community in London.
Throughout the 20th century, St Martin's has also looked beyond its own doors and played an active role in wider social, humanitarian and international issues. Architecturally, spiritually, culturally and socially, St Martin's has helped to form the world around it.
•James Gibbs' design has been imitated across North America and throughout the world.
•St Martin's was involved in the Anti-Apartheid Movement and the founding of many charitable organisations, including Amnesty International, Shelter and The Big Issue.
•The Vicar's Christmas Appeal on BBC Radio 4 has been broadcast annually since 1924, now raising over £500,000 a year for disadvantaged people across the country.
•The Academy of St Martin in the Fields has become one of the world's foremost chamber ensembles.
•St Martin's is a place where people of different faiths regularly pray together.
The Renewal of St Martin-in-the-Fields is aimed at improving our ability to care for those in need and providing inspiration for those who visit.
St Martin-in-the-Fields is a landmark church in the heart of London and is well known for its welcoming atmosphere, award-winning Café, popular classical and jazz concerts and historic James Gibbs architecture. It aims to be the "Church of the Ever Open Door" and has at its heart a practical and hospitable Christianity that seeks to "comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable". It holds regular church services in English, Cantonese and Mandarin and offers social care services to London's Chinese community and homeless people.
The Renewal of St Martin-in-the-Fields has created modern facilities to replace what was once a series of Victorian burial vaults, which have inadequately housed many of St Martin's services for decades. The aim of the Renewal Project is to enable St Martin's to better serve those in greatest need and to enrich people's lives through worship, social care and internationally renowned musical performances in spaces fit for the purpose.
Discover the architecture of the National Portrait Gallery, designed in 1896 by Ewan Christian and now transformed by Jamie Fobert Architects. Please meet at the Ross Street Entrance. Drop-in 16 & 17 September at specific times listed below. But please note that spaces are extremely limited and tour places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.
Ewan Christian, 1896
institution/profession, library, museum
HQ of professional and examining body for UK optometrists occupying two terraced houses, No. 41 (Flitcroft c1730 with later additions) and No. 42 (rebuilt by Tarmac plc, c1989) including Council chamber, print room, library and museum.
Henry Flitcroft, 1730
religious, mixed use
Three centuries of Quakers in Westminster. Opened in 1883, with front doors added in the 1920s. It was bomb-damaged in 1941 and rebuilt in 1956. Grade II listed registered place of worship, it contains a peaceful meeting room and 1950s wood panelling and fittings.
W. W. Lee and J. A. Tregelles, 1883
historical house, museum
Grade I listed Georgian house, the only surviving home of Benjamin Franklin, retaining many original features including central staircase, lathing, 18th Century panelling, stoves, windows, fittings and beams.
Baron William Craven the Younger, 1732
Ever since the United States gained independence, Americans have been showing up again and again. This tour is about their influence on the UK from before the Revolutionary War to American heiresses marrying for titles to WWII to today.
Former US Embassy - Eero Saarinen, 1960
Built for the United Universities Club, 1-4 Suffolk Street is now home to the University of Notre Dame and its G.K Chesterton Collection. Visitors will be able to enjoy both this Edwardian listed building and the unique collection within.
Reginald Blomfield, 1906
historical house, institution/profession
A very good example of Georgian/Adam architecture. Restoration 2012 of Great Room (James Barry paintings), Benjamin Franklin room. 2019, restoration and installation of 1754-2018 mural in the new Long Gallery.
Adam Brothers, 1774
One of London's finest examples of Georgian architecture, Carlton House Terrace was designed by John Nash and built between 1827 and 1833. It is home to the British Academy, the UK’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences.
John Nash, 1827
The tour charts the evolution of Covent Garden-incorporating the piazza, the wholesale produce market, social residential areas and supporting neighbourhoods - highlighting the social and commercial highs, lows and challenges.
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