Open House Festival

Fitzrovia Chapel

religious, recreational, historical house, community/cultural, gallery, concert/performance space, mixed use

J. L. Pearson, 1891

2 Pearson Square, Fitzroy Place, W1T 3BF

Loughborough Pearson's red brick building is unimposing from the outside, but inside is a riot of Gothic Revival design. Golden mosaics reveal the character of the Grade II* listed chapel, built as part of the Middlesex Hospital.

Getting there

Tube

Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus, Goodge Street, Warren Street

Train

Euston

Additional travel info

The chapel is located in the pedestrianised Pearson Square, which is off Mortimer Street on the site of the old Middlesex Hospital. It can be accessed on foot from Mortimer Street, Cleveland Street, and Riding House Street. It is a short walk from Goodge Street Tube Station, and a slightly longer walk from Warren Street or Oxford Circus.

Access

Facilities

Accessibility notes

We have a wheelchair lift outside the chapel.

About

Site History

The Grade II* listed chapel was built as a place of quiet contemplation and prayer for staff and patients of the former Middlesex Hospital. The hospital no longer stands having been demolished in 2006, but the chapel underwent a £2 million refurbishment during the new build around it. The first ever service was held in the newly built structure on Christmas Day in 1891, and was formally opened in 1892 by the Bishop of London. The chapel, which hosted services led by chaplains and other faith leaders as well as non-denominational services of thanksgiving and reflection, was never fully consecrated. The chapel holds weekly Open Days during which the public are welcome for quiet contemplation, and it also hosts concerts, exhibitions and cultural events. It hosts many weddings every year, and other occasions ranging from memorials, naming ceremonies, tours, fashion shows, photoshoots, to TV & film shoots, and book launches. The Fitzrovia Chapel Foundation stages its own cultural programme.

The Building

The chapel was designed by leading Victorian architect, John Loughborough Pearson (1817-1897) after whom the new residential square is named. The building was originally commissioned in memorial to Major A.H. Ross, former Chairman of the Hospital Board, and was funded by donations and fundraising activity by the hospital community. Awarded the RIBA gold medal in 1880, Pearson worked on some of Britain’s finest building’s including Truro Cathedral, Bristol Cathedral and Westminster Hall. Work began in 1891, but nearly forty years passed before the interior was completed due to the decision that no money raised for patient care should be spent on the building. Funding came in piece by piece, and work was undertaken on that basis. After Pearson’s death in 1897, work on the chapel, including completed decoration of the ceiling, was completed by his son, Frank Loughborough Pearson.

The chapel was built originally with only one access door from the main hospital, and this is now a viewing window from the restaurant next door. Interior decorations to the building were added in a piecemeal way as funds became available, and the original ceiling was made from oak and largely undecorated, This is except in the chancel over the altar, which was covered in golden mosaics and stars.

In the late 1920s and early 30s The Middlesex Hospital was demolished and rebuilt around the chapel, with the baptistry being added and golden mosaics extended across the whole ceiling. The chapel has a simple rectangular nave including a transept for its baptistery, which holds memorial windows to lives lost in WW1. The ante-chapel (or narthex) is lined with memorial tablets of white marble featuring inscriptions to hospital figures from all professions, and movingly illustrates the dedication of the Middlesex Hospital's community. These provide a valuable record of the chapel’s past.

The chapel's interior features a vibrant mixture of historic architectural and design techniques, from the cosmatesque mosaic inlays to the roundels on the ceiling. Many examples of these techniques can be seen in Byzantine and European medieval architecture, which both Pearson and his son were greatly inspired by. Seventeen different types of marble feature in the designs, including the characterful green Verd Antique which fronts the organ loft, and which the font is carved from.

The majority of the windows in the chapel were made to Loughborough Pearson's designs by Clayton & Bell, and mosaic works were completed by Robert Davison's Decorative Art Studio in Marylebone, and artist Maurice Josey. The original organ was removed around 1934, with dummy pipes installed and an electric Allen organ taking its place. This still functions today.

Roundels on the ceiling vaults depict the apostles, and a roundel featuring St Barnabas can be seen in the transept opposite the baptistery. The piscina on the altar is carved in alabaster, and the aumbry, given in memory of Prince Francis of Teck features a carving of the Pelican in her Piety, a common image of redemption in ecclesiastical design.

Online presence

www.fitzroviachapel.org

www.instagram.com/fitzroviachapel

twitter.com/Fitzroviachapel

Nearby

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