Survey of London: Volumes 33 and 34, St Anne Soho. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1966.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
In this section
- CHAPTER X
St. Anne's Church
The body of this church was demolished as the result of severe damage during the war of 1939–45 and only the steeple remains. The first certain reference to the church (Plates 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, figs. 69, 70) is in the minutes of a meeting of the vestry of St. Martin in the Fields, in August 1676. A few months earlier, in April, the foundation stone had been laid of a new church in that parish, which was in 1685 to become the church of the parish of St. James, Westminster. (fn. 18) On 6 August the vestry of St. Martin's learned that the Bishop of London, Henry Compton, considering 'the greatness of our parish & the littleness of our Church', would give £5,000 towards building another new church in the parish. (fn. 19) Whether the money was the bishop's own is not certain. The vestry, on receiving a letter from him in February 1677/8, was to thank him for 'laying out the moneys given by a Worthy Lady for the building of a Church, which his Lordship is building in Kemps Field', (fn. 20) but it is not clear whether this refers to the bishop's whole outlay or to a supplementary benefaction. In any event it is the bishop who appears as the active figure in the building of the church.
The next to be heard of the proposed church after the vestry meeting in August 1676 is in April of the following year, when the site was being determined. Since July 1674 St. Martin's parish had held the lease of one and a half acres in Kemp's Field (or Soho Fields) for the use of its poor, by assignment from the Crown lessee, the Earl of St. Albans. (fn. 21) This was eastward of the ultimate church site, and in terms of the modern streets lay around the crossing of Frith Street and Romilly Street (fig. 2 on page 28). It fronted an existing roadway only to the south, on King Street (now part of Shaftesbury Avenue). The parish was now told that the bishop wished it to exchange this for 'som acrs of ground neere adjoyning' which the bishop 'hath or shall appoint for building a Church' for the use of the parish. (fn. 22) The exchange was made some four months later, on 8 August 1677. The site for which (with another detached piece of ground) the one and a half acres were exchanged was adjacent to the west, also in Soho Fields, and had an existing roadway both on the south (King Street) and on the west, where it abutted on Wardour Street. The lease was held not by the bishop but by two building speculators, Joseph Girle, a brewer by trade, and Richard Frith, tiler and bricklayer, to whom had passed the Earl of St. Albans's leasehold interest under the Crown. In return for the parish's one and a half acres they now assigned to Sir Walter Clarges and other trustees for the parish their interest in this, the present church site, and in another piece of ground farther east. The plots were described, in a later recital, as 'two severall pieses or parcells . . . Whereon two Churches were then in building': (fn. 23) the second church was that being built for a Greek congregation in Hog Lane (see Chapter XI).
It thus appears that the church, later St. Anne's, had been begun, in the late spring or early summer of 1677, before the parish of St. Martin's owned the site, and perhaps as the outcome of direct negotiation between the bishop and Girle or Frith. Some eight years later the episcopal and parliamentary enactments to bring the church to completion stated that the builders and landowners of the neighbourhood had petitioned the bishop to have a church built, and it may be that the bishop's wish was equally matched by that of the estate developers, who evidently gave the bishop's name to Compton Street, north of the church site.
The identity of the architect of the church cannot be established with certainty. But it appears that the authorship of the design lay with either Wren or William Talman, or was divided between them, together or successively, in a manner which cannot now be certainly determined. For documentary evidence of their connexion with the church it is necessary to look forward to April 1685, when Bishop Compton appointed twelve commissioners to bring the church to completion. Among these was Wren, who was the only one to be named as an indispensable member ('in person or in his absence in writeing') of the quorum of three. These commissioners, or the quorum, were empowered 'to contract with William Talman Gent. surveyor of buildings, or any other Surveyor or Artificer or any other person or persons as they . . . shall judge competent for the building and finishing the said Church and premises'. (fn. 24) The commission naturally related only to the work still to be done in completing the church. That Wren or his associates had been concerned with the church in its earliest stage is, however, indicated by the existence of four designs formerly among the 'Wren' drawings in the Bute Collection and now in the library of the Royal Institute of British Architects. (fn. 25) They show the plan, east elevation, west elevation and steeple (in an unfinished 'setting-up') and part-section (two bays and two half bays of the nave) of the Soho church (Plates 10, 11). They are not in Wren's or Talman's hand. None is dated, but their differences from the church as built confirm that they date not from the late period of its completion but from its inception, presumably in the period 1676–7. This is consistent with the occurrence of features present in designs for 'Wren' buildings of approximately that period. (fn. 1)
What part, if any, Talman played in the early development of the design, or whether he was introduced to supervise the work at some later stage, there is no documentary evidence to show. That Wren should have been called in about 1676–7 hardly requires explanation, particularly in view of his work on the other church, St. James's, very recently begun in St. Martin's parish. Talman's connexion with the Soho church invites more speculation. If he was concerned in the work in the 1670's it would have been one of his earliest commissions. Apart from work at Thoresby House, Nottinghamshire, implausibly dated 1671 by Colin Campbell, (fn. 26) no work by Talman is known earlier than the 1680's, and his work at Thoresby is itself much more probably datable to the mid 1680's. (fn. 27) By 1683 at least two families for whom Talman worked as country-house architect were represented among the inhabitants of Soho. Lord Latimer, son of the Duke of Leeds for whom Talman was to rebuild Kiveton Park, Yorkshire, in c. 1698–9, lived in Soho Square from 1683 to 1685 and was one of a second body of commissioners appointed to complete the church in the summer of 1685. Another commissioner then appointed was William Cheyne (Cheney), esquire (later second Viscount Newhaven), who lived in Gerrard Street from 1683 and was the brother-in-law of Talman's probable patron at Thoresby, William Pierrepont, fourth Earl of Kingston. (fn. 27) (fn. 2)
On the relative parts played by Wren and Talman in the last stages of the work a piece of secondary evidence, of uncertain authority, should be cited. When repairs were necessary in 1830 the architect and surveyor, James Savage, made a report to the parish. In it he stated, 'This Church was built about the year 1685, Mr. William Talman Architect, Sir Christopher Wren being named as a Commissioner but it does not appear that he acted as such and although he was occasionally consulted his numerous avocations about that period doubtless prevented his giving much time to this concern'. Savage proceeded to criticize Talman's incapacity on the assumption that he was the designer of the roof, contrasting it with Wren's superficially similar 'Master piece of construction' at St. James's: 'but Mr Talman at St. Anne's has missed the proper Principle of constructing a roof of this form'. (fn. 28) Savage's reference to the occasional consultation of Wren, for which there seems no present documentary authority, suggests that he may have seen records of about 1685 no longer existing, and was not basing his interpretation merely on the bishop's commission and a wish to preserve Wren's reputation. His testimony may therefore have an independent value for the period about 1685. It would seem that he saw no records (and was thus ignorant) of the previous stages of building.
As has been seen, this first work began before the parish of St. Martin's had acquired the site. The title which it obtained in August 1677 was only leasehold, expiring in 1734. No doubt the parish had reason to think that the freehold would be obtainable. Unlike St. James's, however, where the freehold was granted by the Crown to the Earl of St. Albans's heir and promptly made over by him for the consecration of the site, no grant of the site of the Soho church by the Crown to an individual or corporate body seems to be recorded and its appropriation to sacred use was evidently effected simply by the Act of Parliament which authorized the establishment of the parish and stated the boundaries of the church and churchyard site.
The preparations for obtaining this Act were going forward in February 1677/8, when the vestry asked the bishop for his views on the boundaries of the new parish. The church was then said to be 'in building by the Bishopp of London'. (fn. 29) In March a Bill to establish the new parish was introduced into the House of Commons. (fn. 30) For the first time there is mention of the dedication of 'the now intended parish of St. Anne'. (fn. 31) The bishop's interest and inclination were perhaps reflected in this, as he was mentor to the thirteenyear-old Princess Anne, whom it may have been wished to compliment.
The Bill was sent to committee on its second reading in May but no more is heard of it, and later in that month leave was given for the introduction of another Bill with the same purpose. This had its first reading on 1 June and received the royal assent, after amendments of unknown significance had been made in the Commons, on 15 July 1678. (fn. 32) The Act provided that the new parish should come into being on the Lady Day (25 March) following the consecration of the church. It rehearsed that the bishop had 'caused a Parcel of Ground in part of ... Kemp's Field ... to be set out' as a site for the church and churchyard, where the foundations of a church and steeple had been laid and building had been raised above ground level by the bishop's direction. The boundaries of the new parish and of the church and churchyard site were particularized. South of the churchyard, the future rector's glebe land, fronting on to King Street, was delimited (fn. 33) (see page 274).
The provisions in the Act for the government of the future parish included the authorization of a rate to be made at the discretion of the churchwardens and four householders for the repair of the church. The Act did not, however, contain any provision for the making of a rate by St. Martin's parish to carry on the initial building.
No records exist among the churchwardens' accounts or vestry minutes of St. Martin's of payments made towards the work and it may be that at this stage, as the references to the church already mentioned would suggest, the bishop handled and financed most of the business himself.
From 1678 until 1684 nothing is known of work on the church. In November 1680 a lodging was described as being near Lord Gerard's, 'by Soho Church', (fn. 34) but no sign of the church appears on Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1681–2. It seems that bricks were being ordered in 1684. (fn. 35)
Among the fears and uncertainties generated by the religious enmities of the time it is possible that this enterprise under the auspices of the 'Protestant Bishop' may have had some measure of party significance, and perhaps the accession of a Roman Catholic monarch in February 1684/5 impelled Compton to get the work finished. In justifying his measures he reflected upon the slow progress hitherto made. The period of nine years during which the church was to be building was, however, only a little longer than at St. James's.
On 30 April 1685 Compton established the twelve-man commission to which reference has already been made. (fn. 24) The instrument by which it was constituted did not refer to his own initiation of or payment for the building of the church, and represented him as acting at the solicitation of 'diverse owners and builders of new Houses' in the Soho area. After the Act of 1678 had been obtained several of the inhabitants had subscribed towards the work 'but for want of a Method and order in the collecting and disposeing of the said collections and contracting with Surveyrs Artificers and workmen for building thereof it hath been much neglected'. The bishop therefore nominated a dozen persons (of whom the future rector, John Hearn(e), B.D., a Fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, was the first named) to be 'Commissioners and supervisors of and for the building' of the church and steeple and of the rectory house. Wren's presence among the commissioners, and their power to treat with Talman, have already been noted. The other commissioners included some eminent civil and military servants of the State. They also included two 'artificers', Richard Campion and Augustine Beare, who were to become the first churchwardens of the new parish, and a 'gentleman', Cadogan Thomas, who was in fact sometime a timber merchant of Lambeth. (fn. 3)
Campion, Beare and Thomas were, it seems, concerned as tradesmen in building the church. This appears from a Chancery petition brought in 1689 by a Jeffery Wood, then described as a haberdasher but who had traded in bricks (see page 284n). Wood claimed that in 1684 he had supplied 19,000 stock bricks, costing £25, to Campion, Beare and Thomas, who were 'concerned as partners or undertakers for ye building of ye parish church' and who employed Alexander Williams (a bricklayer of St. Giles's) as their 'agent or servant'. The defendants denied that they had been partners. Beare, a glazier, agreed that he had worked on the church in that capacity and said that Campion (although described as a carpenter) had performed 'the greatest part of the Brick Work in the building the said Church'. (fn. 36) (fn. 4)
The commissioners were recommended by the bishop to consult with two of the peers resident in Soho, 'the right Honourable and our much Honoured Friends', Charles, first Earl of Macclesfield, and Thomas, second Viscount (and later first Earl) Fauconberg. The commissioners, or a quorum of three, were advised to meet weekly 'in the vestry of the chapple of St. James . . . or any other convenient place', and were empowered to appoint a clerk to record their acts and a treasurer to make receipts and payments. The disbursements were to be made 'out of such summe and summes of money as shall accrue and be payable unto them . . . upon the Sale of the Pewes in the said Church or by subscriptions or contributions or by any bequests wayes or meanes whatsoever'. If the commissioners found that this would not suffice they were to seek from 'the ensueing Parliament' an Act empowering them 'to raise money of the Inhabitants and Owners' within the future parish. (fn. 24)
Almost immediately this step was taken, and on 3 June 1685 the House of Commons gave leave for a Bill to be brought in to 'build' the church of St. Anne's at the cost of the inhabitants. Amendments of unknown significance were made in committee by both the Lords and Commons and the Bill received the royal assent on 27 June. (fn. 37) It rehearsed that the inhabitants of the 'precinct' of the future parish wished to have the church finished but 'cannot legally make an equal Distribution amongst themselves for the performance thereof. The Act made no reference to the bishop's recent commission but directed him within thirty days to appoint thirty 'of the best and most discreet Inhabitants in the said Precinct' to be (together with the rector and two churchwardens of the new parish) supervisors and commissioners for finishing the church. They were to take an oath, appoint a clerk and meet in St. Martin's vestry-room until one was built at St. Anne's. They were to continue in office until the church was finished and were then to constitute the Select Vestry of the parish with power to fill vacancies as they occurred. The essence of the Act was in the provision that the commissioners, or a quorum of seven, were to obtain within thirty days of their appointment an estimate of the cost of finishing the church and steeple, rectory house and vestry-room: if this could not be met by the sale of pews they were empowered to raise a sum not exceeding £5,000 from the real and personal estate of landowners and inhabitants in the new parish, by a rate levied in quarterly payments over a period of not more than four years. Payments were to be made to workmen 'with moderate Interest for forbearance', and the debts, credits and contracts were to be entered in a book. An account was to be rendered yearly to the bishop until the work was completed. (fn. 38)
A few days later, on 8 July 1685, the bishop appointed the commissioners. (fn. 24) No reference was made to Wren or Talman (who were presumably not inhabitants and therefore in any event not entitled to be commissioners) or to the artificers Beare and Campion (who nevertheless, in virtue of their office as churchwardens, were to become commissioners, as did the rector, John Hearne). Of the other eight commissioners appointed by the bishop in April all were reappointed except Cadogan Thomas, whose building speculations in Soho Fields had by this time involved him in financial difficulties (see page 32). (fn. 5)
As with the earlier promoters of the work, none of the commissioners' records is known to survive, although it is known that they did proceed promptly to levy a rate on the inhabitants, commencing at Michaelmas 1685 and continuing for at least three and a half of the permitted four years. (fn. 39)
Eight or nine months later the church was sufficiently complete to be consecrated by Bishop Compton, on 21 March 1685/6. (fn. 6) Sir John Bramston, the lawyer who lived in Greek Street, mentions the event in his autobiography and reveals the active interest still taken by the bishop, now fallen out of royal favour, in the progress of the work. 'The consecration (as was the buildinge) of it was the more hastened, for that, by the Act of Parliament, it was to be a parish from the Lady Day next after the consecration; and, had it not been consecrat that day, it must have lost the benefit of a year, for there was noe other Sunday before Our Lady Day. But the materiall parts beings finished, tho' all the pewes were nott sett, neither below nor in the galleries, his Lordship made noe scruple of consecrating it; yet he would be ascertained that all the workmen were payd or secured their monie and dues first, and to that end made perticular inquiries of the workmen'. (fn. 40)
In the ceremony of consecration the inhabitants were represented by the King's spokesman in the Commons and a resident in Soho Square, Viscount Preston, whose chaplain, William Wake (soon to be the first lecturer at the church) read one of the lessons. Lord Preston presented to the bishop the inhabitants' petition for the consecration, which referred to the appropriation of the site by Act of Parliament: no title-deeds were handed over. The ceremony was interrupted by dinner which the bishop took at the house of Sir Samuel Grimston in Soho Square. Later in the afternoon the bishop proceeded to another part of the incipient parish of St. Anne's to consecrate an additional cemetery for the parish of St. Martin's at the site of the former Greek Church. (fn. 41)
The newly consecrated church was as yet without a spire to crown its seventy-foot tower, and in some respects differed from the designs now in the library of the Royal Institute of British Architects. At the west end, the tower had the clasping buttresses, unique in a 'Wren' church, shown on the R.I.B.A. plan (Plate 10a), but the west doorway in the tower was probably omitted, and doors were made in the westernmost bays of the aisles. (fn. 42) At the east end a more important change was made. The sanctuary was carried up to the full height of the building instead of being given the curious form shown in the R.I.B.A. plan and east elevation (Plate 11b), and its projection was reduced by the addition of sixth bays at the east ends of the aisles. Internally the sanctuary was constructed without the two columns in the opening from the nave originally intended. It was given a semi-circular shape on plan, under a semidome ceiling. The plan of the east end as it existed in the nineteenth century, with its notable similarity, as has been observed, (fn. 43) to that of an early Christian church, was thus presumably original. (fn. 7) Descriptions of the church as first designed and as built are given below.
The church thus consecrated did not win as much admiration from architectural critics as did St. James's, but eighteenth-century comments were at least conventionally polite. The praise of the 'pleasant and pretty large' church by the author of A New View of London in 1708 (fn. 44) is quoted below (page 271). In 1714 James Paterson called it 'a large and beautiful ParishChurch of brick Work . . . it is adorn'd with some fine new Monuments, stately Galleries, Branches, and Organ . . . and situate in a pleasant Churchyard'. (fn. 45) Strype in 1720 said it was 'a fair Church . . . handsomely finished within', (fn. 46) and in 1739 William Maitland, to whose History of London the parish subscribed two guineas, (fn. 47) called St. Anne's a 'spacious and handsome Church'. (fn. 48)
In its early years the church had a fashionable congregation, though less celebratedly so than St. James's. Not only the aristocratic residents within its parish came to St. Anne's. In 1686 the Countess of Dorchester seems to have preferred it to her parish church of St. James, (fn. 49) and Evelyn worshipped here on a number of occasions in 1687–90, although he was no doubt attracted by Wake's preaching rather than by any beauty of the building. (fn. 50) In 1718 the vestry learned that the Prince of Wales, later George II, then living at Leicester House, had 'discovered an Inclination to come to this Church', and Lady Williamson was asked to give up her pew to make way for him. (fn. 51) The Prince paid Tomson Norris, joiner, £16 8s. in 1719 for work done here, doubtless on the pew. (fn. 52)
As Sir John Bramston noted, the fitting-up of the church remained to be completed after the consecration. The vestry minutes of the new parish do not survive before 1695, but the churchwardens' accounts contain small payments, such as the £5 10s. to Mr. Young, a carver, for work on the churchwardens' pew. An inventory of 1687–8 lists lamp-furnishings given by donors, including the 'Great Branch', the 'Twelve Branches below' and the 'Branches in the Gallery, and for the Pulpett and Reading Desk, and Clarkes Seat'. The same list mentions 'the Silk Curtaine for the East Window'. (fn. 53)
In January 1685/6 St. James's vestry had resolved to offer to St. Anne's the font about to be replaced by that now in St. James's Church but it is not known if the gift was made or accepted. (fn. 54)
After Midsummer 1689 the vestry, although it had power under the Act of 1678 to repair the church, lost its power to make a churchbuilding rate under the Act of 1685. The £5,000 permitted by that Act had been raised by a rate, and (it was said) over £1,200 in addition by the sale of 'several Pews and Galleries'. (fn. 55) If it is supposed that £5,000 given by or through Bishop Compton had previously been expended on the church its cost was amply commensurate with the wealth of the inhabitants.
Two substantial parts of the work provided for by the 1685 Act still, however, remained to be done. The tower was without its spire and the rectory house was unbuilt. In December 1691 leave was obtained from the House of Commons to bring in a Bill authorizing the vestry to raise not more than £1,700 to complete this work. (fn. 56) Inhabitants petitioned against the Bill, pleading the burden of taxation necessitated by the French war. (fn. 55) The Bill passed, with amendments, to the Lords and was there committed in January 1691/2, (fn. 57) but opposition from inhabitants, evidently led by the Earl of Bolingbroke, occasioned 'great difficulties' and the Bill was dropped. (fn. 58)
The church remained without a spire for some thirty-two years. In December 1696 Wake, by then rector of St. James's, mentioned that St. Anne's 'once had a mind for' the timber spire which St. James's had removed from their tower in 1687. The vestry of St. James seems to have decided to revive negotiations for the sale but nothing came of it. (fn. 59)
In 1699 the vestry of St. Anne's received by royal gift the organ from the Queen's Chapel at St. James's (see page 266) and in 1705 was building the rectory house (see page 275). At the same time, in 1705–6, a new sounding-board or 'type' was set up over the pulpit on two pillars, by the joiner or carpenter, John Chaplin. A general renovation was carried out with paint and whitewash, the use of the latter evidently being by the example of St. James's Church. (fn. 60)
By 1714 the building of a spire, or 'steeple', was in consideration again. On 14 June the vestry recorded that 'Mr Tallman Exhibited to this Board a Draught of the steeple and promissed that on Fryday next . . . [he] would give in an Estimate of the Charge in building the sd steeple'. A vestry meeting was ordered to be held on that day but there are no minutes of such a meeting and no more is heard of the matter until January 1717/18. Proposals for building a spire had then been made by the local carpenter, John Meard, junior, and on 3 February it was decided that the rector should conclude articles of agreement for the work and pay for it as specified in the articles. The work was finished by the end of the year. (fn. 61) No records of the payment for it are known to survive. (fn. 8) Whether the somewhat oldfashioned spire (figs. 69, 70) was designed by Talman or Meard is not known.
For the remainder of the eighteenth century no important architectural alterations are known to have been made to the church but considerable sums were spent on redecoration or repairs. In 1734 some £270 was spent. (fn. 62) In 1743 and again in 1744 the roof was repaired (probably mainly in its tiling and leads) at a cost of some £470. (fn. 63) In 1756 a public burial vault was made under the south aisle, like that already existing under the north aisle, and two galleries were erected for the charity children: at the same time the church was redecorated with much paint 'of a bright stone colour'. The cost was about £764. (fn. 64) This began a period of expenditure. Some accounts are missing but in the year 1763–4 some £306 was spent, in 1766–8 some £560, and in 1770–1 some £571. (fn. 65)
In May 1787 repairs became urgently necessary because of the 'Immediate danger of the roof' and the work was entrusted to Alexander Campbell, a carpenter, sometime of Litchfield Street. The cost was about £712 but as only £99 of this was paid to Campbell himself little work on the timber structure of the roof seems to have been involved. (fn. 66)
In 1889 the rector stated that the figures of Moses and Aaron which decorated the reredos (as they had done since at least 1708) (fn. 44) were painted by Benjamin West (1738–1820). (fn. 67) Between 1774 and 1805 West exhibited at the Royal Academy eleven paintings showing Moses or Aaron, (fn. 68) but it is not known when the replacement of the original paintings at St. Anne's, if in fact made, was effected.
The first important alteration to the church was made in 1801–3, when the steeple was replaced by that now surviving (Plates 12, 14, 15). The architect was S. P. Cockerell, whose first report to the vestry, in response to an unrecorded request from them, was dated 12 May 1800. This stated that the upper part of the tower was sound but that instability had developed in the two western buttresses near the ground. Cockerell suspected that investigation would show that 'from the ignorant manner in which masses of Brickwork were frequently built about a century ago' the other buttresses would be found to be similarly defective. He suggested further investigation with the help of George Dance, junior. (fn. 69) On 9 June they submitted a joint report, for which each was paid five guineas. (fn. 70) They had found that the whole steeple would have to be rebuilt and this was agreed to by the vestry. (fn. 71) The committee to supervise the work met on the same day. (fn. 72) In July the vestry agreed with a bricklayer for the demolition of the steeple (the parish retaining of the materials only the four stone vases on the tower, which are perhaps those now placed on the east wall of the churchyard garden) and the dismantling of the steeple began immediately. (fn. 73) In February 1801 another committee was appointed, to consider (none too soon, it would seem) the manner of rebuilding. (fn. 74) On 10 March it asked Cockerell to draw 'a plan of a Tower' and also of a new vestry-room adjoining the church, (fn. 75) to supplement the old location for a vestry-room in the tower. On 24 March Cockerell submitted a plan for the tower or steeple, to cost £2,400, which he considered 'the least expensive that could with propriety and consistent with the general Architecture of the Church be erected'. (fn. 76) On 31 March the vestry agreed to the rebuilding of the steeple and the beautifying of the church, and to the erection (also to Cockerell's design) of a new watch-house and fire-engine-house with vestry-room over. (This was completed in the following year, see page 276.) A committee was empowered to contract for the work and to obtain an Act of Parliament to raise the money by the sale of annuities. (fn. 77)
The procurement of an Act was delayed, (fn. 78) but on 30 June a faculty was obtained from the Bishop of London specifying in some detail the work to be done. (fn. 79) The description of the new steeple was consistent with that now surviving. Although the parish had trouble with all its main contractors, it seems that Cockerell's design was executed without any significant change in appearance (Plate 14).
The faculty specified grey stock bricks, Portland stone, copper, and iron for the materials. In October 1801 it was decided, on Cockerell's recommendation, that the facing brickwork of the tower then remaining to be executed should be laid in 'Parker's Roman Cement'. (fn. 80)
The necessary Act of Parliament was finally obtained, after controversy between the committee and some parishioners, (fn. 81) on 28 May 1802. It nominated twenty-four inhabitants, who, together with the rector, churchwardens and overseers of the poor, were to be trustees to complete the steeple, watch-house, engine-house and vestry-room, and repair the church. They had power to raise £6,000 by a rate not exceeding sixpence in the pound. Contracts already entered into by the parish committee were made binding. (fn. 82)
In the meantime the committee had invited tenders for the rebuilding of the steeple in two parts, one for the tower and the other for the 'cupola and turrett'. Re-advertisement was necessitated by some builders' failure to understand that they were required to tender for all branches of the work. (fn. 83) In July 1801 a tender was accepted from James Nicoll of Durham Place, Hackney Road, bricklayer, and an agreement was concluded with him in August, to complete the demolition of the steeple and perform the new bricklayer's, mason's and carpenter's work up to the stone cornice which was to finish the square brick tower, for £850. (fn. 84)
In the summer of 1801 Cockerell showed his design for the steeple at the Royal Academy Exhibition. (fn. 85)
By April 1802 it was possible to accept a second tender, from James Francis and John Day, of Clapham, stonemasons. They were to perform the mason's and bricklayer's work and the related carpenter's, smith's and plumber's work from the stone cornice finishing the tower up to immediately below the clock-globe, for £1,840. (fn. 86) The agreement, described as being for the 'Campanile or Cupola and the Turret', was concluded in September. The structural brickwork was to be laid in Roman cement. The carpenter's work was to be done 'in an accurate and masterly manner with Sussex Oak and Riga Fir'. The specifications for the mason's work included: 'the face of the Piers between the Columns and the Plinths under them to be worked in a bold regular tool-stroke and the rest rubbed, three courses of them to contain the two Columns and Pier in one Stone in order to a good Bond, one in the Bases, the Second in the Shaft, and third in the Capital to be wrought in the same manner and the Frieze over each opening to be in one stone eight feet long'. (As executed the masonry was not so monolithic as here specified.) The louvres of the bell-chamber were built of Portland stone two inches thick. (fn. 87) It had become necessary for Francis and Day to finish the stone cornice of the tower, which Nicoll (who became bankrupt) had been unable to complete. (fn. 88) By March 1803 their work was due to be finished. (fn. 89) As with other workmen, the completion of the contract was delayed, (fn. 90) but it was sufficiently advanced in March for tenders to be invited for the copper work. Only two tradesmen tendered, John Thwaites of Clerkenwell and John Kepp of Chandos Street, and in April the provision of the 'red sheet Copper' work and the iron vane was divided between them, at an estimated cost of £473. (fn. 91) The estimated cost of the steeple, in the accepted tenders, had thus risen to £3,163.
By the end of May arrangements could be made to hang the bells, (fn. 92) and it was beneath the strange shape of the virtually completed steeple that the militia drilled during the summer of 1803. (fn. 93)
Most attention was now being given to the repairs to the body of the church and the redecoration of the interior, at an estimated cost of £722, (fn. 94) which was, however, to be appreciably exceeded.
On 25 May Cockerell reported to the trustees set up by the Act of 1802 that the pantiles and leadwork of the roof needed repair. (fn. 92) Glazed Dutch pantiles for the north side of the roof were ordered to be shipped from Rotterdam 'by the first neutral vessel for the River Thames', but were so long coming that 'Bangor rag slates' were used instead: when the Dutch tiles arrived they and the old material were sold to Mr. Copland (doubtless Alexander Copland, a contractor). (fn. 95) (fn. 9) The slater was being paid in September 1803, (fn. 96) and the plumber's work was finished in November. (fn. 97)
Cockerell's recommendations for the interior were not extensive. Apart from redecoration, which included repainting the altar in the same imitation of marble as before, his chief suggestion was to 'grind off the Polish' of the east and upper south windows to reduce glare. (fn. 98) In fact only the east window was altered, and this was given not ground but stained glass. It was provided partly by Mr. Minnett (no doubt John Minnitt, painter and glazier, of Dartmouth Street, Westminister), (fn. 99) and partly by John Wetherell, brick layer, of Litchfield Street, who had some on his hands 'to be disposed of'. The cost was about £310, a little less than the sum raised by subscription for the purpose. (fn. 100) The east window was described by J. P. Malcolm, probably in 1805: 'An arched window, over the altar, contains ten compartments in painted glass, formed by neat divisions of green and yellow. The arch is a nimbus, under which is the Saviour. On either side of him are a crown and crown of thorns; under him are St. Peter, St. John, and St. Paul; and under St. John St. James; on whose sides are a highly-finished and very brilliant ewer, and vase of incense. The colouring of this window is wonderfully bright and clear, but the figures are wretched'. (fn. 101) Thomas Allen's praise of the window in 1828 (fn. 102) is noted below (see page 271).
The ball and vane were in place by September 1803, and all the work was apparently finished by the end of the year. (fn. 103)
The total cost does not emerge very clearly, partly because the payments for the steeple and the watch-house building are sometimes run together in the accounts, and partly because Cockerell's final bill does not seem to have included quite all the work done. In any event, the parish had difficulty in meeting its commitments and in 1805 some workmen were being paid five per cent on outstanding bills. (fn. 104) They seem to have been finally paid in 1811. (fn. 96) Cockerell evidently did not submit his own bill in his lifetime and it was finally delivered to the parish by his executors in 1828. It recorded a total expenditure (including that on the watch-house) of £6,148 6s. 8¾d., on which Cockerell's commission at five per cent was £307 8s. Of the total, perhaps some £3,558 was for the steeple, some £1,387 for repairs and embellishments to the body of the church, and some £1,203 for the watch-house. (fn. 105) Other payments to workmen, however, are known to have been made, totalling perhaps some £850; these included the wages of the clerk of works, who was paid by the trustees, at 6s. a day. (fn. 106) In all, some eighteen major building tradesmen seem to have worked on the church or watchhouse. (fn. 10)
Despite this expensive alteration a thorough redecoration was carried out in 1816–17 at a cost of some £1,590, when the largest single payment was to the carpenter, John Heron, a churchwarden. The pulpit and reading desk were separated and placed on opposite sides of the nave. (fn. 107) Heron had examined the roof-timbers in 1808, (fn. 108) and dry rot was found in the roof in 1816. In 1823 defects in the ceiling at the west end caused the churchwardens to consult the surveyor, William Inwood, who supervised repairs to the roof-timbers at a cost of some £439 (including his commission). (fn. 109) In 1824–5 the architects Atkinson and Smirke were paid ten and fifteen guineas respectively for surveying the repairs. (fn. 110)
These attentions proved insufficient and in 1830–1 a major reconstruction of the church was necessary. The architect was Robert Abraham. On 5 May 1830 he reported to the vestry on the safety of the roof, which he found 'in a very defective state', partly because of the decay of the timbers from damp, but chiefly because of 'the want of Skill in its formation, being devoid of principle and weak in consequence of the large arched ceiling; the want of lateral ties occasioning an extraordinary expansion of the Timbers'. He also found that 'the Materials of which the Walls are formed are of a very inferior quality'. Abraham thought it necessary to take down the church to about the level of the galleries and rebuild with a roof entirely of new oak and fir. He proposed to 'cover with Roman Cement the whole of the Exterior to protect the work from further damage, to conceal the junction of the new Work, and to give the whole respectability of appearance'. Inside, the fittings and furnishings were 'proposed to be in strict form and accordance with the undisturbed Portion of the Works'. Abraham supplied a cross-section showing how the walls had been thrust outward by the spreading of the roof-timbers. (fn. 111) He was paid twenty-five guineas for his report. (fn. 112) A committee appointed by the vestry sought a second opinion, at a cost of twenty guineas, (fn. 113) from James Savage, who reported in June. His strictures on Talman's incapacity as the supposed designer have already been noticed. Like Abraham he thought a completely new roof was necessary. (fn. 28) (fn. 11) The committee recommended that this should be provided and substantial repairs made according to plans already prepared by Abraham. The cost was not expected to be more than £5,000 and the committee hoped that by advertising for tenders 'a responsible contractor may be found for executing the works for less than that sum'. After some vacillation the proposal was accepted in August by 298 votes to 149 in open vestry. (fn. 114) A contract was concluded with the builder, James Lucas of Cromer Street, Brunswick Square, at £3,363. By March 1831 the walls had been rebuilt 'in Roman Cement instead of Dorking Lime Mortar', and at Abraham's suggestion the committee had 'ordered considerable alteration to be made in the Elevation of the East front'. (fn. 115) These changes involved the rebuilding of the semi-dome over the altar. Difficulty then arose with the contractor, who became bankrupt. The committee 'turned Mr. Lucas and his Men out of the church', and finished the work themselves, at a cost of some £5,445, plus Abraham's commission, surveyor's fee and honorarium (totalling in all £329). The church was re-opened in October 1831. (fn. 116) It was at this time that the original east front was altered to the form in which it survived until 1953.
In 1845 the interior was ordered to be repainted, under the direction of the architect, James Lockyer, who recommended 'painting in shades' rather than renewing the existing colouring, and also recommended that the marbling should have 'a few lighter veins' introduced. (fn. 117)
The following year the Reverend Nugent Wade became rector and a period ensued which was marked by dissension in the vestry over his supposed Puseyite sympathies. (fn. 118) In 1862–3 the east window of 1803 was replaced by another, by Hughes and Ward of Frith Street, which had obtained a silver medal at the 1862 Exhibition. (fn. 119) In 1864 and 1865 proposals by the rector to lower the pews and remove their doors, without cost to the parish, were rejected at scantily attended vestry meetings. In January 1866 the vestry agreed that the pews might be cut down if the doors were retained, on the understanding that the rector intended no alteration in the services 'and that he will not introduce the offertory instead of pew Rents'. (fn. 120) The bishop's faculty was obtained in April for the alteration to the pews and other changes to increase the accommodation 'for the poor and many children' who attended the church. The cost was estimated at only £500, to be raised by subscription. (fn. 121) The alterations to the interior which followed were, however, extensive. The architect was A. W. Blomfield, whose proposals for external repairs were accepted by the vestry in July. (fn. 122) No mention is made in the vestry minutes of his interior alterations. They were described in The Builder in November 1866, after the reopening, and can be seen in the photograph of 1890 reproduced on Plate 13. The nave and aisle seats had been cut down by Blomfield and rearranged. 'The gallery seats have also been lowered, and the system of lighting by brackets from the gallery front has been changed to a series of small gaseliers or starlights suspended from the ceiling. But the great feature of the present alterations is the formation of a chancel out of one bay of the nave, the apse being reserved as a sacrarium. A low screen of carved oak has been thrown across the church at the first pillar from the east, the space within being fitted with carved oak stalls for the choir. These are separated from the side aisles by oak screens, surmounted by grilles of metalwork. The church [sic] is raised one step from the nave, and three more steps lead to the foot-pace, on which the altar stands. The whole of the chancel and sacrarium has been paved with tiles, and the old panelling round the apse has been re-arranged, the paint having been cleaned off, and appropriate decorations in gold and colours applied on the natural wood, slightly stained as a ground. A reredos and super-altar in marbles and alabaster, bearing a Greek cross, charged with the emblems of the Lamb and the four evangelists in mosaic, complete the new architectural features of the east end. The credence consists of a carved wooden bracket attached to the panelling of the apse; and a new altar-cloth, designed by the architect, has been worked by the sisters at Clewer'. (fn. 123)
In 1868 the organ was enlarged, (fn. 124) and it was perhaps at that time that it was moved from a gallery at the west end to the south side of the chancel. Nugent Wade was at this period building up the fame of St. Anne's for its choral services.
The interior was renovated in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. (fn. 125) In September 1895 dilapidation of the eastern pediment caused the London County Council to serve a Dangerous Structures Notice on the rector. A report was obtained from the architects, Roumieu and Aitchison, who estimated the cost of exterior restoration at £1,100. They professed some appreciation of the north and south elevations, exhibiting 'a style which whilst severe is none the less beautiful', but suggested the addition of architrave mouldings to the window openings. They also suggested a redecoration of the interior, to include the provision of wrought-iron electric light standards fixed in the ends of the seats, at a cost of £1,170. (fn. 126) By November a total restoration, costing £3,180, was envisaged. (fn. 127) The exterior work was finished by the end of 1896 and the interior redecoration by October 1897, under Roumieu and Aitchison's direction. It was financed by subscriptions and by grants from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. (fn. 128)
The builder Lucas's work on Abraham's new eastern pediment of 1831 had perhaps been faulty, as further dilapidation here caused another Dangerous Structures Notice to be served on the rector in May 1929. The repairs, with others to the steeple required by the District Surveyor, were directed by the architects, Richardson and Gill, at a cost of £1,125. The following year an incoming rector asked the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for a grant towards funds spent 'to make the church habitable . . . When I arrived the Church was derelict. No light. No heating. No accessories for Divine worship. In fact, nothing!'. (fn. 127)
The church was severely damaged by bombing in 1940, when most of the body of the church was destroyed although the steeple survived. Proposals for the retention of the ruins as a war memorial were made by Jacques Groag in 1945. (fn. 129) By 1949 it was thought that the church would not be rebuilt, (fn. 130) and under a reorganization measure of 1953 the church of St. Thomas's, Regent Street, was made the parish church of the united benefices of St. Anne's, St. Thomas's, and St. Peter's, Great Windmill Street. The site of St. Anne's was to be sold. (fn. 131) The walls at the east end, which were the only substantial parts of the body of the church still standing, were demolished to window-sill level, and the site deconsecrated in July 1953. (fn. 132) In 1956–7 it was decided, partly in consequence of the London County Council's policy to maintain or increase the residential use of the Soho area, to reinstate a church approximately on the old site. (fn. 133) By a private Act of Parliament of June 1965 the Acts of 1678, 1685 and 1802 were repealed. The Act authorizes the rector (in whom the steeple site and burial ground are vested) and the London Diocesan Fund (in whom are vested the sites of the rest of the church and of St. Anne's House at No. 57 Dean Street) to clear the church site, except for the steeple, and demolish St. Anne's House, and to erect on the site a new church which will become the parish church of the united parishes. The steeple is to be retained. The Act also authorizes the erection of a house of residence for the rector, a parish hall and other buildings. (fn. 134) The present intention is to build a church, church house (including bookshop, parish hall and club room) and a rectory house. An underground car park is proposed under most of the site.
In 1699 the parish petitioned the Crown for the organ in the Queen Dowager's chapel at St. James's (now the Queen's Chapel) and on 17 May the request was granted 'as of Our free Gift'. (fn. 135) In the following year the parish was paying for repairs to the ceiling of the chapel. (fn. 136)
Proposals for setting up the organ were received from the organ-builders (Bernard) Smith and (Renatus) Harris. (fn. 137) The latter was said in 1708 to have been its maker. (fn. 138) Whether this was so or not, it was the former who set up the organ, at a cost of £100, (fn. 136) and was later retained to repair it at £8 per annum. (fn. 139) The organ loft was built over a gallery at the west end of the church. (fn. 44)
A painter's estimate for redecoration in 1756 mentions 'the Organ Case and its Carved Enrichments Figures and Boys, and inside Lights and Frames and Cleaning and varnishing the Guilt Wire round the Organ'. (fn. 140)
In 1782 the organ was repaired by the firm of Dodo Tollner and Knight (of Romilly Street), for £63 plus £15 paid to the gilder, Elcock. (fn. 141) (fn. 12)
In 1794 it was decided to replace the organ by a new one. (fn. 142) Robert and William Gray of the New Road undertook to do the work for 395 guineas, using the old metal pipes: their design included four 'towers' and the elevation was thirteen feet wide. The work was finished by May 1795. In the event Messrs. Gray were paid an additional £42 for using only new pipes. (fn. 143) (fn. 13)
The new organ at St. Anne's continued to stand at the west end in an upper gallery. It was described as 'very large, and extremely fine [in sound]' in 1844, when it was, however, attributed to the organ-builder, Green. (fn. 144) It was added to in 1868 by J. W. Walker and Sons, (fn. 145) and it was perhaps at that time that it was moved to the south side of Blomfield's recently formed chancel. It was 'renovated' in 1892 and 'improved' in 1897. (fn. 124) In 1929 it was said to have 'just been rebuilt' by Henry Willis and Sons for £1,940. (fn. 127) It was destroyed when the church was bombed in 1940.
The First Design of c. 1676
Among the churches of basilican plan emanating from Wren's office this early scheme for St. Anne's (Plates 10, 11) is unique in having a screen of two columns in the opening of the chancel, a feature used later by Hawksmoor in Christ Church, Spitalfields. The rectangular body, about eighty feet long and sixty-four feet wide internally, is divided by colonnades of five equal bays to form a nave, thirty-two feet wide, flanked by aisles without galleries. A colonnade of three bays at the east end of the nave opens to an oblong chancel, some fourteen feet deep, and in the east wall of each aisle is a doorway, approached externally by a flight of four semi-circular steps. The west end wall of the nave is divided into three bays by pilasters responding to the east colonnade, and the middle bay contains a doorway to an octangular vestibule in the projecting tower, which is square on plan but has its angles embraced by heavy buttresses. A temple roof, covering the barrel vault of the nave and the flat ceilings of the aisles, produces a great pediment at each end of the body of the church. The aisles and chancel are lit by tall arch-headed windows, and to compensate for the absence of a clerestory, the nave receives a flood of light from the large semi-circular window of three lights in the tympanum ending the barrel vault, above the colonnade screening the chancel.
The architectural treatment of the exterior is indicated by a finished drawing of the east elevation, intended, presumably, to be executed in red brick dressed with stone (Plate 11b), and there is a faint and unfinished setting-up of the west front and tower (Plate 11a).
From the drawing it would appear that the design of the east elevation is dominated by the great pediment ending the roof, with the overscaled semi-circular window in the slightly recessed central part of the tympanum. In execution, however, this predominance would have been lessened to some extent by the projecting chancel. This last has a tall arch-headed window, framed by an architrave rising from a high pedestal, set in a plain face bounded by long-and-short quoins. These quoins rise between a stepped plinth and a narrow cornice, continuing that at the base of the great pediment and consequently lacking a cymatium. In the end wall of each aisle is an arch-headed doorway in a doorcase of rusticated stonework, the incised joints of the narrow courses being continued across the Doric pilasters that support the plain frieze and cornice. In the brick face above is a large round window within a moulded architrave. The front is bounded by plain pilaster-strips, rising to support projecting breaks in the cornice of the crowning pediment.
The setting-up for the west front and tower is very tentative. The tower is divided into three stages, the first rising to eaves level and containing an arch-headed doorway. The second stage, rising as high as the roof-ridge, has a rectangular window below a circle, perhaps for a clock dial. The third stage, which is relatively low, contains an archheaded opening in a straight-headed frame or recess, and finishes with a triangular pediment. The prominent angle-shafts or clasping buttresses of the tower appear to be square on plan for part of their height, probably to the top of the second stage. Above this they appear like engaged circular turrets rising about half-way up the third stage, to finish with domes and ball-finials just beneath the crowning cornice. Above the tower rises a dome of Gothic profile, with a lantern crowned by a small hemispherical dome and a bird-finial or vane. The top stage of the tower, finished with the dome and lantern, relates very closely to other Wren designs in the All Souls collection, published by the Wren Society as studies for St. Antholin's, Budge Row, (fn. 146) but most probably intended originally for All Hallows the Great, Upper Thames Street, as will appear from a comparison of the sectional elevation at All Souls with the transverse section of All Hallows as measured by John Clayton. (fn. 147) It is worth noting that both St. Antholin's and All Hallows were begun in the period 1677–8.
The part-section of the nave, on its long axis, shows the Corinthian plain-shafted columns spaced at sixteen-feet centres and raised on twotier pedestals, the lower part being five feet high and doubtless intended to coincide with the wainscot of the pews (Plate 10b). The columns support an unbroken entablature, appropriate to the order although no enrichments are indicated. Above this rises the barrel-vaulted ceiling, divided into compartments by panelled transverse ribs centred over the columns. In each bay of the side wall is a tall arch-headed window, its sill level with the column bases. The bay design has considerable affinity with that of St. Mary Aldermanbury, built in 1677.
The general conformity of the plan and dimensions of the church as built, with those of the design described above, is very close.
The Church as Built
St. Anne's was a basilica, having a nave of five bays terminated by an eastern apse, serving as a chancel, and flanked by north and south aisles containing galleries that were linked by a gallery across the west end of the nave. A square tower projected centrally from the west front, and the chancel apse was flanked by vestibules containing staircases to the galleries, which were also reached by open staircases at the west end of each aisle. According to the plan reproduced by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (fn. 148) the interior was some sixty-four feet wide, the nave being thirty-one feet clear, and seventy-eight feet long, excluding the chancel apse which added a further eighteen feet. The bays of the nave were spaced at fifteen-feet centres. The close correspondence between these dimensions and those of the church as originally planned suggests that building may have begun according to the early design described above.
All the evidence shows that the church was externally an extremely plain building, even plainer than the much criticized exterior of St. James's, Piccadilly. The engraving by B. Cole, published in the 1756 edition of Maitland's History of London, taken together with Kip's distant view of c. 1718–22, presumably gives a trustworthy representation of the church and steeple (figs. 69, 70). The walls of red brick, finished at the west end with a plain stone pilasterstrip and at the east end with long-and-short chamfered quoins, contained two tiers of windows, the lower segmental-headed and the upper round-arched, all without ornamental dressings. At the west end, in place of a window, was a round-arched doorway, dressed with a stone doorcase of narrow chamfer-jointed courses, the joints carried across the pilasters supporting the cornice. These doorcases, partly surviving in April 1964, appear to be a simplified version of those shown on the 'Wren' east elevation. The side elevation was finished with a modillioned eavescornice, perhaps of wood, from which rose the tiled temple roof.
The square-shafted tower had the prominent clasping buttresses featured in the early 'Wren' design (Plate 10a), but they were finished a few feet above the ridge of the church roof by concavecurving offsets. The shaft, which was not externally divided into stages, contained in each exposed face four superimposed openings. The first and second were windows of the same size and shape as those in the side of the church, the third opening was round and set in a square recess, and the fourth was a tall arch, divided by a branching mullion into two Gothic lights fitted with louvres. Above a plain stone cornice was a parapet of pedimental form, its coping rising in concave quadrants to horizontal breaks flanking a semicircle partly framing a clock dial, and at each corner was a large fluted and gadrooned urn. The spire added in 1718 was a coarsened version of that at St. Martin's, Ludgate Hill, beginning with a bell-shaped dome of octagonal plan, having a small pedimented dormer in each diagonal face. Above the dome rose an octagonal lantern, each face an open arch with a balustrade. The upper part of the spire resembled a swelling baluster, rising from a concave-curving base and finishing with a ball and vane.
An undated drawing of about 1820 by J. M. Gandy (fn. 149) gives the best representation of the east end as originally completed (Plate 12b). The general composition was very similar to that of St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, a Palladian derivation with a pedimented centre flanked by slightly recessed wings finished with half-pediments, their raking cornices continuing the lines of the central pediment. Unlike St. Andrew's, however, St. Anne's was not divided by a stone bandcourse into two storeys. The pedimented centre contained a large round-arched window, framed with an unbroken bolection-moulded architrave of stone, rising from a pedestal-apron having an unusually high die. This window feature was set against a slightly projecting face, and the flanking faces of plain brickwork were finished with longand-short stone quoins. In the pediment tympanum was a small round window. Apart from the increased size of the round-arched window, and the omission of a keystone from its architrave, the executed design as far as the underside of the pediment was markedly similar to the original 'Wren' draft (Plate 11b). The side faces, fronting the vestibules and corresponding to the aisles, had each a doorway below a large round window. The doors, of two leaves with raised-and-fielded panels, were recessed in stone doorcases. These consisted of a wide stepped architrave, and a plain narrow frieze flanked by consoles supporting a triangular pediment. The round windows were framed with stepped architraves.
To judge from their architectural character, the external lobbies of oak that fronted the northwest and south-west entrances were probably added shortly after the church was completed, although they do not appear in Cole's engraving. A photograph, reproduced in The Builder for 15 September 1916, shows that the sides were flush-panelled, and the front contained a wide door beneath a semi-circular fanlight of simple radial pattern. The door of two leaves was formed with flush panels in two tiers, the top rail being shaped to a reversed segmental curve, with the space above filled by foliage scrollwork, and at each end, a cherub's head. Similar carving decorated the spandrel panels flanking the fanlight, and enriched consoles projected to support the cornice-hood.
S. P. Cockerell's Steeple
This original, powerful, but rather unattractive composition of 1801 has its genesis in late eighteenth-century experiments with the classical idiom, particularly as exemplified in the funerary edifices in Père Lachaise. Sir John Summerson has pointed to a resemblance in composition between the upper stage and that of the south-west tower of St. Sulpice, Paris, (fn. 150) designed by Maclaurin in 1749 and possibly inspired by the Roman monument at St. Rémy.
Built of yellow brick with dressings of Portland stone, the square shaft of the tower rises in two stages, the first to eaves level, and the second to the apex of the original temple roof (Plates 12, 14, 15). In each exposed face of the lofty first stage is a large but shallow round-arched recess, flanked by battered buttresses some five feet wide. Within each recess is a segmental-headed window below a circular one, the last concentric with the arch of the recess. The brick face above the arch is stopped by a shaped apron of plain stonework, apparently depending from the raised stone stringcourse that finishes the first stage. The relatively low second stage begins with a plain stone plinth, curiously treated to form a shallow relieving arch spanning between the buttresses and enclosing a shallow segmental tympanum of brickwork. The front and side faces of the second stage are treated alike, the brickwork being vertically divided by narrow channels to produce a square centre, containing a large round opening with louvres, flanked by pseudo-buttresses, the buttress effect being strengthened by the reentrant angles of this stage. Instead of the conventional cornice there is a stone architrave, having two fascias, and a high blocking-course extending between the plain pedestal-blocks placed above the pseudo-buttresses. The lofty belfry stage, which is entirely of stone, begins with a plinth composed of two high but slightly recessed steppings, and assumes an octangular plan through the introduction of diagonallyplaced corner piers to separate the four cardinal faces. Each face contains a large louvred opening framed by Tuscan columns engaged to the antae. Columns and antae rise from plain pedestals, but the former support a panelled lintel, or frieze, and the latter finish with a frieze-block ornamented with a laurel-wreath. The boldly profiled cornice is carried unbroken across each cardinal and angle face, but the articulation of the Tuscan aedicules and the diagonal piers is stressed by the placing of pedimental blockings above the former, and semi-circular acroteriae above the latter. The extraordinary 'spire', of bell-shaped profile, begins with a stone plinth formed of three plain steppings, circular in plan, on which rests a drum of copper. This is ornamented with a largescaled guilloche, its interlacing bands encircling a series of eight round openings, fitted with louvres. Above the drum are three more steppings, in copper, surmounted by the pulvinated base of a copper sphere from which four clock dials project, facing east, west, north and south. Out of this sphere rises a tall finial of wrought iron, stayed by four straight-sided scrolls and bearing a weathervane.
Robert Abraham's Alterations
The external appearance of the church was considerably changed in 1830–1, by Robert Abraham, who partly rebuilt the walls and coated the old and new brickwork, as well as the stone quoins and angle pilasters, with Roman cement mock-jointed to resemble stonework. A plain bandcourse was introduced between the two tiers of windows, which were dressed with moulded architraves having one fascia, and the wooden eaves-cornice was replaced by a modillioned cornice and pedestal-parapet of brick finished with cement. The original temple roof was replaced by one of mansard form, flat-pitched and leaded above the nave, steep and tiled over the aisles, where the ends were hipped. The major change, however, was made to the east elevation, where the central face was given a new frieze and pediment, its modillioned cornice framing a plain and windowless tympanum, and the flanking faces were finished with a modillioned cornice surmounted by a balustrade. At the same time, the circular windows above the pedimented doorways were enlarged to form tall round-arched openings matching those in the side walls, being finished with moulded architraves of one fascia, and having panelled aprons slightly recessed above the plain sills.
The Interior Before 1866
A New View of London of 1708 gives this description of the interior:
'The Church is pleasant and pretty large, with an Arched Roof divided into Pannels, with Fretwork, and supported by about 12 Pillars of the Ionick Order, and the Galleries are elevated on those of the Tuscan Order.
'The Ornamental part is very well; it is wainscotted round with painted Deal, Bolectionwork; and the Galleries the same, which are on the N.W. and S. sides of the Church, besides the Organ-Gallery which is over that other at the W. end of the Church.
'The E. end has in the middle of the Inside a jetting out with a Sweep or Semicircular Space, where the Altar is very handsome, being painted in imitation of Marble, and consists of 2 Columns near the middle, and 2 Pilasters on each side, with their Entablature, and circular open Pediment of the Tuscan Order. Next the Center are the Lord's Prayer and Creed, and farther outward are the Commandments done all in large Gold Letters upon Black; and on each side the Commandments, and facing each other, are Moses and Aaron well painted at full length.
'At Moses's Right-hand are these Words: [1 Corinth. 5, 7, 8]
'And at Aaron's left Hand are these Words also done in large Gold Letters upon Black. [1 Corinth. 15, 20]
'And the whole is adorned with Cherubims etc.' (fn. 44)
A more detailed account by Thomas Allen was published in 1828:
'The division between the nave and aisles is made by square piers, ornamented with pilasters of the Doric order, which sustain, with the intervention of pedestals, four insulated and two engaged columns of the Ionic order; the capitals have wreaths of foliage hanging from the volutes; the columns are surmounted by their entablature; the frieze is convexed, and enriched with a continuous wreath of acanthines, broken by grotesque masks above the centre of each intercolumniation, and by cherubic heads over each column; the ornamental portions hitherto described are executed in wood. The ceiling of the nave is an arched vault, the curve of which is cycloidal; it is made into divisions, corresponding with the intercolumniations by ribs pannelled with coffers and roses, and the intervals occupied with square moulded pannels; the ceiling of the aisles is horizontal. A gallery is constructed above the side aisles, which also extends across the west end; the front is pannelled and rests on the piers. A secondary gallery at the west end contains the organ and seats for the charity children. The altar is situated within a semicircular niche at the east end; it is parted from the church by a bold arch, with a sculptured key-stone. The ceiling is a half dome, with a richly pannelled soffit; the pannels occupied with branches of palm and other foliage. The altar screen is of the Doric order; it sweeps to the form of the recess, and is made into divisions by two columns and pilasters; above the columns are urns. (fn. 14) Besides the usual inscriptions are paintings of Moses and Aaron; the whole has a mean appearance, being formed of wood painted white, with gold mouldings. The east window contains five octagon medallions, painted with the following subjects:—1st. Our Saviour between a crown of thorns, and another of triumph; and four saints, distinguished by their legends inscribed beneath them: 'S'tus Petrus, Ap', 'S's Johannes, Ap', 'S'tus Paulus Ap'. Beneath the last is 'S. Jacob' Ma.' Apo' between a chalice and an urn. The colours are very vivid and the figures well painted. The pulpit and reading-desk are situated on opposite sides of the nave, in front of the chancel.
'The font is a neat basin of veined marble on a pedestal, and is situated on the south side of the church.' (fn. 102)
Comparing the 1708 description with that of 1828, it would seem that the general appearance of the church interior remained virtually unaltered until the partial rebuilding of 1830–1, except for the new painted glass of 1803 in the east window and the painting in white and gold (perhaps in 1816–17) of the originally marbled altarpiece.
In reconstructing the interior, Abraham made some changes to the general design, and gave the ornamentation a neo-classical flavour. He omitted such Baroque details as the foliage swags of the Ionic capitals, and the grotesque masks and cherub-heads of the entablature frieze. The latter was now enriched with a continuous band of laurel-garland; the transverse ribs of the nave barrel vault were decorated with rosettes only, no longer set in coffers; and the ceilings over the aisle galleries were reconstructed as a series of shallow segmental vaults springing from entablatures extending between the columns and the side walls. The coffers in the semi-dome of the apse were filled with large acanthus-bosses.
Interior as Existing Before Destruction
This description is based on the account by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, (fn. 151) and on photographic evidence (Plate 13).
The wide nave of five equal bays was divided from the north and south aisles by two ranges of square piers, evidently of stone but cased in wood, having on each face a single-panelled pilaster with a Doric capital. There were respondent pilasters dividing the panelling on the north and south walls. The piers supported the side galleries, their fronts being treated as an entablature surmounted by a low pedestal, with all the members breaking forward to conform with the projection of the pier pilasters. The mouldings were not enriched, but each bay of the frieze had two small moulded rosettes, a third being added at some time after 1890, when all were linked with painted festoons of laurel-garland. Centred over the piers were plain-shafted Roman Ionic columns of wood, forming colonnades screening the galleries, each colonnade supporting an unbroken entablature having a pulvinated frieze modelled with laurel-garland, and a dentilled cornice. Above the nave was a plaster barrel vault of semi-circular section, divided into bays by moulded ribs enriched with small rosettes. In each bay were three oblong panels, their moulded frames enriched with formal acanthus leaves. A photograph of 1890 (fn. 152) shows that the middle panel of each bay contained a gasolier ventilator, covered with an openwork boss of foliage (Plate 13), but at some later date these bosses were removed and the ventilators converted into small lay-lights. The ceiling over each gallery was divided into bays by panelled beams extending between the columns and the wall, each bay being ceiled by a transverse vault of segmental section, having a panel with an enriched border and a central flower-boss.
Between the nave and the eastern apse was an arch, slightly less wide than the nave, the piers being plain except for the entablatures of the lower (Doric) and upper (Ionic) orders which were continued inside the apse. On the soffit of the arch was a series of seven oblong panels in moulded frames without enrichment. An enriched archivolt, having three fascias, surrounded the apse semi-dome which was decorated with two rings of seven quadrangular coffers, the mouldings enriched with acanthus ornament, and each coffer was filled with a large and elaborate boss of acanthus foliage and scrollwork. The lower stage of the apse was lined with the original, though much altered, reredos of oak, having three arcaded bays of equal width flanking the central altarpiece. This last dated from 1866 and was constructed of marbles, alabaster and mosaic, from a pseudo-Florentine design by A. W. Blomfield, to conform with which the oak reredos was stripped of its paint and decorated with appropriate patterns, probably stencilled, on the lightly stained oak. The arcaded bays continued to serve their original purpose of framing panels lettered in turn with the Lord's Prayer, the Decalogue, and the Creed. The middle panel on the north-east side was painted with a full-length representation of Aaron, and Moses occupied the corresponding panel on the south-east side. (fn. 15) The frieze of the entablature was inscribed HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, WHICH WAS AND IS AND IS TO COME. The large east window centred in the upper face of the apse, having its arched head concentric with the semi-dome, was deeply recessed within an arch, the archivolt being enriched with acanthus leaves and the soffit decorated with a ring of seven square coffers, treated like those in the semi-dome. The stained glass, presumably that supplied by Hughes and Ward in 1862–3, represented scenes from the life of Christ, in a series of medallions surrounding a tall round-headed panel of the Resurrection, below which was a tableau of the Last Supper.
The rearrangement of the church in 1866, carried out by A. W. Blomfield for Nugent Wade, has already been described in some detail. Besides the cut-down and altered pews, the original communion-rail and pulpit were retained, although by 1890 the latter had lost its sounding-board. The communion-rail of oak, ascribed to the late seventeenth century by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, had a moulded rail supported by carved and twisted balusters, rising at wide intervals from a moulded plinth. The two lengths of railing were stopped by panelled square-section standards. The oak pulpit, ascribed to the early eighteenth century, was placed on the south side of the nave, at a slight angle to the first free-standing pier from the east end. Raised on a short square stem, the pulpit was of octangular plan with wide cardinal faces and narrow angles, having a raised-and-fielded panel on each face, and a moulded cap above which the supporting scroll-consoles projected. The boldly pulvinated base moulding and the cornicecapping were enriched with carving, as was the projecting moulding framing the panel on each cardinal face.
The organ, which filled the east end bay of the south gallery, seems to have retained the fourtowered front of the Gray instrument, originally installed in the west gallery in 1794–5, but the casing had probably been considerably simplified.
The late seventeenth-century font stood centrally in the nave between the first piers from the west end. It was of white marble, with a moulded, fluted and reeded bowl resting on an octagonal stem of baluster profile.
Monuments Within the Church
The symmetry of the apse was disturbed by the odd arrangement of the mural monuments placed on the upper wall face. All were of white marble, the most elaborate and conspicuous being that commemorating Lady Grace Pierrepont (d. 1703), which was placed immediately on the south side of the east window. Her fulllength effigy, clothed in heavy draperies, stood between mourning putti on an inscribed pedestal of convex plan, this being supported by a cartouche-apron bearing a lozenge-of-arms. The inscribed pedestal was flanked by the panelled pedestals of two columns with twisted shafts and Composite capitals, which supported entablature-blocks surmounted by urns and linked by a segmental cornice, serving as a pediment. Immediately beneath the cornice, and flanking the effigy, were festooned draperies upheld by putti, and over the cornice stood a winged hourglass. (fn. 16) The only other monument on the southeast face was that of Mrs. Grace Mouldsworth, or Molesworth (d. 1687), a tablet carved with an arch framing the inscription, and flanked by Corinthian columns supporting a straight entablature. Flaming urns were placed above the columns, flanking a half-length effigy, and below the tablet was a cartouche-apron with a shield-of-arms.
On the north-east face of the apse were four monuments, that in the central position being the most elaborate. Commemorating Miss Diana Farrell (d. 1686), it consisted of an oblong tablet bearing an inscription within an oval frame, having a floral garland festooned above and crossed palm-branches below. Consoles, with winged cherub-heads, flanked the tablet, which rested on a gadrooned apron of concave profile, with a cherub-head below. Above the tablet was a carved female bust between two small flaming urns. On the right of the Farrell monument was a shaped tablet inscribed to a former rector, Samuel Squire, Bishop of St. David's (d. 1766), surmounted by a draped urn, a mitre and a crozier. To the left of the Farrell monument was a mid eighteenth-century tablet in the form of a large Baroque cartouche, commemorating various members of the Arnold family. Above this last was a simple Grecian tablet to a later Arnold, Edward John Richard (d. 1836).
Other monuments were arranged vertically on the piers of the arch framing the apse, the oldest being the small pedimented tablet to Thomas Agar (d. 1687), the topmost on the south pier. All the monuments existing inside and outside the church were listed in 1905 by W. E. Hughes, (fn. 153) but their positions are not always indicated.
The few surviving monuments in the churchyard are of little interest apart from the tablet to Theodore, King of Corsica. Of stone, and fixed to the south buttress on the west face of the tower, it is of very simple design with a crown in an oval panel above the inscription composed by Horace Walpole. Below there is a stone commemorating the burial in the churchyard of William Hazlitt.
Theodore's monument is balanced by a tablet of similar design, fixed to the north buttress of the tower, commemorating the first century of the church, below which is another tablet marking the second century.
On the north side of the churchyard are two table-tombs, one without inscriptions, and the other, which is of early nineteenth-century date, commemorating members of the Lesage and Clement families.
The Act of Parliament of 1678 which delimited the parish also particularized the site of the church together with the churchyard. It was said to measure 233 feet from east to west and 184 feet from north to south, abutting west on the present Wardour Street, east on the newly laid out Dean Street, north on ground belonging to Richard Frith and south on the glebe land on the north side of King Street (now part of Shaftesbury Avenue). The glebe was to measure 213 feet east to west and 45 feet north to south. (fn. 33) By the time the site of church and churchyard came to be consecrated in 1686, however, the north-south dimension of 184 feet was for some unknown reason thought to include the glebe, (fn. 154) and the area consecrated was reduced (though not by a uniform 45 feet). As consecrated the east-to-west dimension was 245 feet on the north and 233 feet on the south, and the north-to-south dimension 151 feet on the east and 136 feet on the west. (fn. 155) These are approximately the dimensions to which the actual site conforms on the north, south and east sides, but on the west side it seems always to have had a greater width than was stated in the records of the consecration, fronting about 158 feet to Wardour Street.
Until about 1871 there was no entrance to the churchyard from that side. Apart from the entrances to the church from Dean Street there was access to the north-west and south-west doors from Old Compton Street (now No. 51a) and from King Street (now represented by the passageway between Nos. 65 and 67 Shaftesbury Avenue). Rocque's map published in 1746 (Plate 4) suggests that access to the churchyard west of the church was gained by the former of these. Tallis's street-view of Wardour Street in 1838–40 shows the high wall dividing the churchyard from the street.
In 1705 a piece of the ground consecrated for use as the churchyard but where burials had never been made, lying north of the east end of the church, was appropriated as part of the site of the rectory house. (fn. 156) In 1732 there is a reference to ground north of the church as the 'Green church yard' (fn. 157) and in 1803–4 to the 'rector's church yard', also north of the church and perhaps paved. (fn. 158)
When the tower was being rebuilt in 1801 it was decided to improve the churchyard and to 'promote by every practicable means decency in the same'. (fn. 159) A 'bone house' was built under S. P. Cockerell's direction in the south-west corner of the churchyard, to house the bones disinterred when graves were dug. (fn. 160) The overcrowded burials in the churchyard caused the parish to include a request for power to purchase another burial ground in their petition to Parliament for an Act authorizing the rebuilding of the steeple, (fn. 161) but the Act of 1802 did not include any such provision.
In 1851 it was said that in the last twenty years there had been 13,788 interments in the three-quarters of an acre of the burial ground. (fn. 162) Its condition was a cause of acrimony in the parish, and one of the churchwardens, Joseph George, led the advocates of closure, evidently in opposition to the rector and 'the Mitred Head itself'. The malcontents voiced 'a strong presumption that personal motives were predominant' in maintaining the burial ground and its 'reeking abominations'. The ground was closed to burials in 1853. (fn. 17) In 1855 a new burial ground was acquired at the London Necropolis, Woking. (fn. 163)
The opening of an entrance to the disused churchyard from Wardour Street was authorized by a faculty granted by the bishop in March 1869. (fn. 164) The Ordnance Survey made in 1871 (sheet published in 1874) shows no such opening but in 1873 it was said to have been made 'a year or two ago'. (fn. 165)
In 1891 it was agreed that the churchyard should be laid out as a garden by the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association and maintained by the Strand District Board of Works, to whom it was leased for twenty-one years by the rector and churchwardens. The garden was opened on 27 June 1892. (fn. 166) At the same period a 'wider and loftier' passage to the church was made from Shaftesbury Avenue. (fn. 167)
In 1900 a strip along the western edge of the churchyard, about eight and a half feet wide, was taken into Wardour Street by the Strand District Board of Works. (fn. 168)
In 1903 the churchyard was leased for 999 years to the Westminster City Council. (fn. 169)
The four vases on the wall to north and south of the steeple are perhaps those which crowned the original late seventeenth-century tower.
The Rectory House
The Act of 1685 which authorized a rate to build the church also authorized the building of a rectory house. (fn. 38) This was not done within the period of four years allowed for raising the money, and an attempt in 1691 to obtain parliamentary authority to make a special rate to perform this and other uncompleted work was unsuccessful (see page 261). The first rector, John Hearne, rented a house, (fn. 170) and in 1693 was living in Gerrard Street. (fn. 171) Shortly after the institution of the second rector, Doctor John Pelling, the parish petitioned in June 1705 for a faculty to build a rectory house partly on a piece of the ground north-east of the church which had been consecrated for a cemetery but not used as such, and partly on the adjacent site of the watchhouse. This was granted in July. (fn. 172)
The vestry ordered that all matters relating to the building of the rectory house should (like that of the watch-house) 'be in the sole manageing of Richard Rider Esqr', a vestryman, who was authorized to engage workmen and to pass bills to the rector, as treasurer of the vestry, for payment. (fn. 173) Precisely how the work was financed is not clear. No Act of Parliament authorizing a special rate was obtained and there is no significant reference to the work in the churchwardens' accounts, although the vestry exercised sufficient surveillance to deliberate in December 1705 on the wainscoting of the house and to settle in 1708 a dispute over the rate at which the bricklayer should be paid. (fn. 174) In 1706–7 the churchwardens paid for insuring the house. (fn. 175) In May 1707 the rector as treasurer was empowered to borrow £300 at not more than five per cent interest to pay outstanding bills. (fn. 176)
The only workman whose name is known is Joseph Walker, bricklayer, who was paid £5 per rod for plain brickwork and £5 10s. 'where Ornament did appear'. (fn. 177)
Little is known of the interior of the house beyond its ground-floor plan. In 1903 it was recollected that in the first half of the nineteenth century there was a porch to the front door and a 'fine oak staircase'. (fn. 178)
In December 1861 the house was sold by the rector to James Müller, a watchmakers' material dealer, (fn. 179) and in May 1862 No. 28 Soho Square was bought for £2,748, for use as the rectory house. (fn. 180) This house was retained until May 1935 when it was sold (see page 113), and the rector was henceforward accommodated in St. Anne's House at No. 57 Dean Street. (fn. 181)
The old rectory house, numbered 58 Dean Street, was demolished in consequence of bombing during the war of 1939–45. (fn. 182)
A ground-floor plan of 1861 (fn. 179) suggests that the site dictated the very irregular form of the building. Provision was made for one large room in front, a dining-room of 17 feet by 19 feet 6 inches, having three windows in its south wall, a chimney-stack centred in the windowless east wall to Dean Street, and a door at each end of the west wall, one to the study and one to the hall. This last, measuring 10 feet by 12 feet, contained the open-well staircase and had the front door in its east side, approached from the outside by two quadrant-curved steps in the re-entrant angle of the building. Another door from the hall led to the study, a back room of 16 feet by 13 feet 6 inches, having a wide window in its west wall and an angle chimney-breast. Off the study was a smaller room, 10 feet square, forming a projecting west wing, having two windows in its south wall overlooking the churchyard, and a chimneybreast in the west wall, flanked by a cupboard and a small water-closet. In the basement back yard was a water-closet, a 'cleaning place' and an ashpit.
The volume published by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments in 1925 describes the building as being of brick rendered in cement, the entrance having a cornice supported on one original scroll-bracket. The staircase, apart from the modern ground-to-first-floor flight, was original, with twisted or turned balusters, and square or fluted newels, the lower flights having cut strings with simple brackets, and the top flight having a closed string. (fn. 183)
No. 57 Dean Street: St. Anne's House
This site was first occupied, about 1705, by the parish watch-house, and later also by the parish fire-engine-house and vestry-room.
The first mention of a parish watch-house is in 1687–8. (fn. 53) It is not known where this was situated, but by 1703 it was on the northern side of the church. When that site was required for the rectory house the watch-house was removed to the site, within the consecrated churchyard ground, on the south of the church. The bishop's faculty for this was granted in July 1705. (fn. 184) The building of the new watch-house, like that of the rectory house, was supervised by a vestryman, Richard Ryder, esquire. (fn. 185)
In 1801 the watch-house was replaced by a new building designed, like the new steeple for the church, by S. P. Cockerell (Plate 12b). In addition to a watch-house and lock-up, burial vaults were provided, and also a fire-enginehouse. (fn. 186) An engine had been owned by the parish since at least 1689–90. (fn. 187) From 1778 it was probably kept in a hired stable in Horse and Dolphin Yard. (fn. 188) By 1784 there was more than one engine and it was decided to lodge them in a 'portico' on the south side of the church. (fn. 189) In 1797–1798 an engine-house was still being hired but by the time of the rebuilding in 1801 an enginehouse as well as a watch-house seems to have been located on the site. (fn. 190)
On the upper floor Cockerell's building accommodated a new vestry-room. Previously the vestry had met in a room in the tower and a vestry-room was retained there when Cockerell rebuilt the steeple, but it was henceforward used only as a clergy vestry.
This rebuilding was approved by the vestry on 31 March 1801 (fn. 77) and the bishop's faculty for rebuilding the steeple, of 30 June, included specifications for the new watch-house. The facing bricks were to be 'grey' stocks, the dressings of Portland stone and the roof of Westmorland slate. Doors at ground-and first-floor levels were to open to the south-east staircase vestibule of the church. The cost was estimated at £1,040. (fn. 79) On 25 July the parish committee came to an agreement with Zachariah Skyring of Bucklersbury, carpenter, who undertook to perform all the construction of the watch-house for only £835. The accompanying plans show a building 31 feet long and 23 feet high to the underside of the cornice. The facing bricks were to be 'very good picked Grey stocks of an even colour'. The whole was to be finished by 31 December. (fn. 191) By November the new building could be insured (fn. 192) and the vestry first met in its new room in April 1802. (fn. 193) By 1803 extra work of unknown character had been done by Skyring, to a value of £300. (fn. 194)
The new, substantial building was of oblong plan, containing a cellar and two storeys, with a frontage of 36 feet to Dean Street, and an overall depth of 20 feet 2 inches. The deep cellar consisted of three arched vaults, the south for fuel and the middle and north for burials. Transverse walls divided the ground storey so as to form an open passageway, 8 feet 6 inches wide, having on either side a front and a back room. The south pair were used for a watchhouse and a lock-up; the north pair for a keeper's room and a fire-engine-house.
The front, of 'grey' stock brick dressed sparingly with stone, was an austere design in the same neo-classical vein as the new church tower. Its dominant feature was the centrally placed entrance to the passageway, a round-headed opening dressed with long-and-short rustic stones, and furnished with a pair of iron gates, the downwards curve of the top rails and spear-heads completing the circle of the arch. On either side of the arch was a single window of two lights, in a plain opening having a segmental head, and a stone sill resting on square blocks with plain paterae. There were three windows to the first floor, in plain segmental-headed openings, centred over the windows and archway of the ground storey. The front was finished with a stone cornice, its mouldings conforming to the current 'Grecian' profiles, surmounted by a high blocking broken centrally by a chimney-stack. The drawing for the contract (fn. 195) shows this stack treated as a pedestal, its die bearing a circular panel inscribed 'St. Anne's Watch House. Erected MDCCCI', but there are signs of an attached 'rider' (now missing) probably suggesting an alternative treatment. Below the stack and beneath the cornice was a shaped apron conforming to the segmental head of the middle window.
In 1827 the vestry agreed to replace the engine-house by a second lock-up, remarking that in the construction of the building 'regard was had to uniformity and appearance rather than to accommodation and experience'. (fn. 196) In 1856 the watch-house, which for some years had been occupied by the police, was converted into a mortuary. (fn. 197)
When adjacent buildings were erected in the 1890's in Shaftesbury Avenue on the rector's glebe, covenants regarding light and air were inserted by him in the leases, to permit the erection of a larger and higher building on the watchhouse site. (fn. 167) In 1901 the newly established Westminster City Council claimed and took possession of the vestry-room but relinquished it in 1903, partly in consideration of receiving a longer lease of the churchyard. (fn. 198) The present building was erected in 1910–11, to the design of W. Courtenay Le Maitre, by A. J. Staines and Company. (fn. 199) The cost was about £4,000. (fn. 200) The basement was designed for use as a boys' club, with gymnasium, the ground floor as a choir vestry, and the upper floors as a parish hall and clergy house. (fn. 201) The building was praised at the time of its opening as 'a very good example of reinforced concrete, as applied to domestic structures'. (fn. 202) Since 1935 part has been used as the rectory house.
The building, of red brick with stone dressings, is designed in a free Renaissance style. The ground storey contains the pilastered doorcase on the left of two wide and low round-headed windows in plain rustic arches. Panelled pilasters of brick divide the two-storeyed upper stage of the front into three bays, the middle bay being two windows wide and each side bay one. The boldly profiled main cornice breaks forward above the pilasters and rises to form segmental pediments above the two middle second-floor windows. A large mansard gable with two windows emphasizes the middle bay, and above the balustrade to each side bay is a pedimented dormer.
An Act of Parliament of 1965 (fn. 134) has authorized the demolition of the building as part of the redevelopment of the church site (see page 266).