All Saints Church, Margaret Street
All Saints Church, Margaret Street is a stone’s throw from the bustle of Oxford Street in the heart of London. It is not just a great building; it is a living and working church. It stands open every day to serve not only its congregation but the thousands of people who go to this part of London for work, education, healthcare, shopping and recreation.
The church owes it origins to the Cambridge Camden Society (from 1845, the Ecclesiological Society) founded in 1839 with the aim of reviving historically authentic Anglican worship through architecture.
In 1841, the society announced a plan to build a 'Model Church on a large and splendid scale'. The project was supervised, and largely sponsored on behalf of the society, by Alexander Beresford-Hope who chose the architect William Butterfield (1814-1900) to undertake the project. Butterfield designed nearly 100 churches and related buildings during his long career, including the chapels of Balliol College and Keble College, Oxford, and built in a highly personal form of gothic revival. All Saints Margaret Street remains his masterpiece.
A chapel had stood on the site - midway along Margaret Street, which runs parallel to the eastern half of Oxford Street - since the 1760s, which from 1839 had been used by a Tractarian congregation, and who agreed that the Ecclesiological Society's model church could be built there. The site was small - just 100 feet square for a church, choir school and clergy house.
On entering the church, one is met by a kaleidoscope of coloured tiles, brick, painting and gilding. The designs that adorn the walls and pillars use chequers, zig-zags, stripes and geometrical colour mosaic. Butterfield's tiled floor is deep red with black checks and a white stone diaper, while the north and south aisles have a triangular variation on this pattern.
The chancel, one of the most sumptuous and dramatic in London, occupies almost one-third of the length of the church. The chancel is entered through Butterfield-designed gilt iron and brass gates set into a low screen of alabaster and marble. The floor is elaborately patterned in six colours
All Saints has been in the midst of a huge refurbishment programme to conserve, restore and clean the interior of the church. The nave of All Saints will be transformed during phases one and two of the refurbishment. The funds for phase three are being raised and will go towards the conservation, restoration and cleaning of the Chancel together with the installation of a redesigned lighting scheme.
In January 2011, the Trustees of The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation agreed a one off donation towards the cost of the third phase of restoration of the interior of the church. The Trustees are enthusiastic about the ongoing refurbishment project at All Saints and consider that the Foundation’s assistance in getting this work done fits well within their charitable objectives and funding strategy.