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Holy Trinity Church

A Grade I Listed Building in City of Westminster, Westminster

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Latitude: 51.5244 / 51°31'27"N

Longitude: -0.1437 / 0°8'37"W

OS Eastings: 528874

OS Northings: 182240

OS Grid: TQ288822

Mapcode National: GBR C7.WQ

Mapcode Global: VHGQS.GYC9

Plus Code: 9C3XGVF4+QG

Entry Name: Holy Trinity Church

Listing Date: 10 September 1954

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1267658

English Heritage Legacy ID: 417828

Location: Marylebone High Street, Westminster, London, NW1

County: Westminster

Electoral Ward/Division: Marylebone High Street

Built-Up Area: City of Westminster

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Marylebone

Church of England Diocese: London

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10-SEP-1954 (North side)

Church, 1825-7, by Sir John Soane; apse added and chancel remodelled, 1878; converted to offices, 1955-6.

EXTERIOR: The Portland stone church has its principal elevation is to the south. This comprises a slightly-advancing Ionic four-column portico with no pediment flanked by single bays of round-headed windows and (to the west) an external pulpit. Above the portico rises the tower which has a square belfry with pairs of Corinthian columns with projecting entablatures at the angles resembling buttresses, each topped by a finial. This supports a circular stage of Composite columns and the tower terminates in a stone cupola and weathervane. The elevations to the east and west are articulated by a giant order of six Ionic half-columns to the central bays, reflecting the position of the nave arcade internally. The north elevation has an apsidal end, added in 1878 when the chancel was remodelled. The original railings have been lost but two lamp standards, originally with circular lamp lights and in a distinctive neo-Grecian style, remain on either side of the portico.

INTERIOR: remodelled twice with the addition of a chancel with marble floors, stained glass and mosaic decoration in 1878 and conversion to offices in 1955-6, although some of the C20 interventions are reversible. Elements of the Soane interior are readable, for example in the entrance with its two stone corner staircases with iron balustrades to the east and west. Although the rest of the church has been subdivided with partitions to create two rooms from the nave and a series of offices in the gallery and aisles, much of the Soane interior remains in situ albeit concealed: the raked gallery flooring is between the 1950s floor and suspended ceilings; the ceiling pattern with square coffering and rosettes is visible in the nave and concealed beneath more modern ceilings elsewhere, but now partially revealed in the east gallery; the arcades of Tuscan columns and octagonal colonnettes which support the ground and upper storeys of the gallery survive, although the spaces between then have been filled in. While giving the impression of a much-altered church, the conversion to offices in the 1950s was done sensitively and the structural essentials of the interior are in place though none of the fittings such as pews, font and pulpit survive. A number of interesting wall monuments dating from the 1820s remain as does the organ. There is a large crypt beneath the church with impressive vaulting.

HISTORY: Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone Road was one of the three churches Soane designed for the Church Commissioners, a government board set up in 1818 to build new churches, alongside St Peter, Walworth of 1823-4 and St John, Bethnal Green of 1826-8 which are both listed at Grade I. This was the most expensive of Soane's churches, costing nearly £25,000, despite the Church Commissioners' £20,000 limit on spending dictated by their mission to build for maximum congregations at minimum cost; the shortfall was made up with a public subscription campaign headed by the Duke of Portland, the major landowner in the area. The final designs for Holy Trinity (following Soane's initial experiments in a Gothic style for the church) were approved in 1824 and the foundation stone was laid the following year. In 1878, the chancel was remodelled by G Somers Clarke and an external pulpit, on the westernmost side of the south elevation, was inserted in 1891 in memory of the Reverend William Cadman. In 1936 the church was the headquarters of the newly-founded Penguin Books Company who used the crypt as a bookstore. In 1955-6 the church was converted to offices for the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge by Handisyde and Taylor. This was one of the first experiments in finding new uses for historic churches which were no longer required solely as places of worship.

Sir John Soane (1753-1837) is one of British architectural history's most distinguished architects, whose works include the Bank of England, the Dulwich Picture Gallery and numerous country houses. His fame in the late-Georgian period as a highly-individualistic classical architect continues to the early C21 in which Soane's work has been interpreted as proto-modernist.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: Holy Trinity is of exceptional special interest as an outstanding church by one of the greatest British architects, Sir John Soane. The exterior is notable for its distinctively Soanian features, such as the carefully composed tower, and the grand Ionic portico which reflects the fashion for the neo-Grecian in the Regency period. It is also a major urban landmark, situated near Regent's Park and on a London arterial road. While the interior of Holy Trinity has superficially suffered a loss of integrity in its conversion to offices, parts of the original fabric remain in situ and are also of special interest.

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