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Westminster, St John’s
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Although Queen Anne likened it to a footstool and Dickens lampooned it as ‘some petrified monster, frightful and gigantic, on its back with its legs in the air’, St John’s is nevertheless one of the London’s most important Baroque buildings. It was built in 1713-28 under the Fifty New Churches Act to the designs of Thomas Archer. St John’s was bombed in 1941 and was restored by Marshall Sisson only in 1965-9, for use as a concert hall.

Westminster, St John’s

The monumental façades and corner towers of St John’s dominate the modest square.

The church dominates Smith Square. The plan seems from the outside to be a Greek cross with quadrants filling the greater part of the angels. The north and the south fronts were given the monumental treatment of huge Tuscan columns standing at the top of flights of steps, rising to broken pediments, and flanked by tall, circular towers with columns attached diagonally. The east and west ends have the one major motif of a substantial Venetian window.

Westminster, St John’s

The interior, facing the organ of 1993; this was the alter end before the war.

Inside, despite Archer’s attempts to create a tension between longitudinal and centralizing effects, the longitudinal is undoubtedly dominant. The one important furnishing is the organ, which was built in 1993 by Johannes Klais. It has a genuine English case of 1734, which accords well with the church.

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