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London`s churches & cathedrals. Introduction. (part four)
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London`s churches & cathedrals. Introduction. (part four)The great works of the Act came to an end in the 1730s. Nevertheless, many churches were rebuilt in the 18th century: on the fringes of the City, at Shoreditch, Hackney, Clerkenwell and Paddington. They tended to be in the tradition of Wren and Gibbs rather than in the grander 1711 image.

The 19th century brought more church-building to London than all the previous Christian centuries put together. This was partly a matter of trying to keep pace with the rise in population, and partly a matter of new energies and procedures in the Church itself. In Georgian times, an Anglican parish was also what we would call a borough: its vestry or parish council was the equivalent of a borough council. So a new parish brought a new borough into being, and required parliamentary sanction. This was changed in early Victorian times, and the Church could then set up a new parish without the complications of civil government. Above all, in 19th-century England there was a tremendous driving force in the Church to expand its work, for there was a sense that the new industrial towns might be lost to Christianity if efforts were not made (or possibly, from the Anglican viewpoint, they would be lost to Methodism or the Baptists). There was a new urgency and energy in all parts of the Church. Theological colleges, schools, training colleges for teachers, missions, almshouses, hospitals and monasteries were all founded in some numbers under Church auspices in Victorian times. Church buildings themselves appeared by the hundred. The first great wave of church-building in 19th-century London was under parliamentary authority, as in 1711. In 1818 and again in 1824, parliamentary grants were made for new churches, and a body known as the Church Building Commissioners was set up. Whereas a dozen new churches resulted from the 1711 Act, several hundred were built after 1818. Many were brick-built in a simple Perpendicular style, which do not stand out, but in the 1820s some were grand Greek Revival buildings such as St John's, Waterloo, and St George's, Camberwell. The grandest of all in this category, though not built by the Commissioners, was St Pancras New Church, designed by the Inwood.

London`s churches & cathedrals. Introduction. (part four)

The memorial to Elizabeth Pepys (died 1669) in St Olave's Church, Hart Street, faces the site of the Navy Office Pew, which her husband, the celebrated diarist, Samuel Pepys, occupied during services.


The Classical gave way to the Gothic in the next twenty or thirty years. A. W. N. Pugin, the great proponent of Gothic, wrote his polemic books in the 1830s and 1840s. He called Gothic the only Christian style. To him, Greek Revival buildings were pagan. He contributed St George's Cathedral himself as an exemplar, which was also, incidentally, one of a number of new Roman Catholic churches that appeared in 19th-century London. Until the end of the previous century, they would have been illegal. In the 19th century, newly freed from restrictions, the Roman Catholics built grandly -most obviously at Brompton, where the London Oratory was built, and at the end of the century, in the form of Westminster Cathedral at Victoria. The Free Churches (among them the Baptists, Independents and Methodists) had been at liberty to build since the late 17th century. Wesley's Chapel in City Road had been a Methodist centre since 1739. All these denominations built new churches in Victorian times, very largely in Gothic, but early this century the Methodist Central Hall at Westminster was an unusually grand Classical building on a plan quite unlike that of any earlier church.


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