religious, mixed use
W. W. Lee and J. A. Tregelles, 1883
52 St Martin's Lane, WC2N 4EH
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.
Leicester Square, Covent Garden
Step-free front access We will be open only on Sat 16th Sept from 9.0-5.0.
Quakers have been meeting in Westminster since the mid 1600s; first in the Strand then near Westminster Abbey. There was much persecution of non-conformists during this time, but finally Westminster Quakers were able to rent a place on the site of the current Duke of York's Theatre in St Martin's Lane.
In 1883 the present building was opened freehold. It continued in use through the first part of World War Two, but suffered bomb damage. The Quakers were then invited to use Church House near Westminster Abbey until repairs were completed. The meeting house re-opened in its present form in 1956.
The meeting house was built in 1954-6 from designs by Hubert Lidbetter, incorporating the basement and outer walls of the predecessor building of 1883.
There are two entrances, from St Martin’s Lane and from Hop Gardens. The main entrance is from St Martin’s Lane, through a passage formed in the ground floor of the listed building at No 52. This has a neo-Georgian shopfront of mid-twentieth century character – it is not clear whether this and the shallow segmental-vaulted ceiling over the passageway belong to Lidbetter’s rebuilding (the frontage building is not owned by the Friends).
The flank elevation to Hop Gardens is utilitarian in character, being built of London stock brick with wide cambered arched window openings with metal windows; this appears essentially to be a remodelling by Lidbetter of the 1883 building.
From the wide vaulted passage from St Martin’s Lane hardwood double doors (probably of 1883, with a decorative rectangular fanlight over) lead into a square lobby, now used as a library. This has a woodblock floor and a raised skylight. It retains its oak chimneypiece and high oak dado panelling of 1883 (after surviving wartime bomb damage these features were retained – or possibly replicated – by Lidbetter).
Two pairs of 1956 oak doors with glazed panels lead to the meeting room beyond, a large, rectangular, space, also top-lit. Clerestory lighting is provided along the long north and south walls, while in the east wall is a tall rectangular window. Glazing is of the 1950s Crittall-variety. The meeting room has a woodblock floor and oak dado panelling around its perimeter, of a streamlined and simpler pattern, typical of the 1950s. A pine dais runs along its north side, set within a recess.
There are two long open-backed oak benches on the dais. The remaining seating (both in the meeting room and the lobby/library) consists of a large number of oak chairs, fine pieces made by Gordon Russell’s Broadway Works, Worcestershire.
The meeting house is in the heart of the West End, within the Covent Garden Conservation Area. It has no townscape presence, being placed behind a row of Georgian buildings on the St Martin’s Lane frontage, and behind the plain brick elevations of the side block facing onto Hop Gardens.
Alongside, a large hotel block is a 1960s former office building by Richard Seifert, converted by Harper Mackay with Philippe Starck as consultant.
The meeting house is listed by virtue of its physical attachment to the Grade II listed building at 52 St Martin’s Lane, which is in separate ownership.
The list entry makes no reference to the building behind. As this incorporates the remains of a meeting house of 1883, as modified and rebuilt by Hubert Lidbetter (a significant Quaker architect, responsible for many designs, notably the Grade II-listed Friends’ House on Euston Road) it is of architectural and historical interest, and an expansion of the list entry to include reference to it might be desirable.
Assessed on its own merits, the building perhaps falls short of listing quality, although it would certainly merit inclusion in a local list.
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
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
religious, concert/performance space, restaurant/bar
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.
James Gibbs, 1726
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.
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
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
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, 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
restaurant/bar, theatre, concert/performance space
Home to The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the ROH was reconfigured in 2018 by Stanton Williams to offer world-class performance spaces and a welcoming and inclusive cultural and social hub.
Sir Edward M. Barry, 1858
Drop in / Guided tour
The first purpose-built new-build community centre to be built in the heart of Soho for generations, located within the renowned Phoenix Gardens. Winner: RIBA London Award. Designed by RIBA London Architect of the Year Winner.
Office Sian Architecture + Design, 2018
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