All Souls Church, Langham Place

Coordinates: 51°31′05″N 0°08′36″W / 51.5180°N 0.1432°W / 51.5180; -0.1432
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All Souls Church, Langham Place
All Souls Church in 2011
Map
LocationRegent Street, London
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
ChurchmanshipConservative evangelical
Websiteallsouls.org
History
Consecrated1824
Architecture
Heritage designationGrade I
Architect(s)John Nash
StyleNeoclassical, Regency
Administration
DioceseDiocese of London
Clergy
Bishop(s)Rob Munro (AEO)
RectorCharlie Skrine
Laity
Director of musicMichael Andrews
Churchwarden(s)Rob Turner
Jo Richards

All Souls Church is a conservative evangelical Anglican church in central London, situated in Langham Place in Marylebone, at the north end of Regent Street. It was designed in Regency style by John Nash and consecrated in 1824.

As it is directly opposite Broadcasting House, the BBC often broadcasts from the church. As well as the core church membership, many hundreds of visitors come to All Souls, bringing the average number of those coming through the doors for services on Sundays to around 2,500 every week. All Souls has an international congregation, with all ages represented.

History[edit]

Bust of architect John Nash outside the church

The church was designed by John Nash, favourite architect of King George IV. Its prominent circular-spired vestibule was designed to provide an eye-catching monument at the point where Regent Street, newly-laid out as part of Nash's scheme to link Piccadilly with the new Regent's Park, takes an awkward abrupt bend westward to align with the pre-existing Portland Place.[1]

All Souls was a Commissioners' church, a grant of £12,819 (equivalent to £1,200,000 in 2021)[2] being given by the Church Building Commission towards the cost of its construction.[3] The commission had been set up under an act of 1818, and Nash, as one of the three architects employed by the Board of Works, had been asked to supply specimen designs as soon as the act was passed.[1] It was, however, one of only two Commissioners' churches to be built to his designs, the other being the Gothic Revival St Mary, Haggerston.[1] All Souls is the last surviving church by John Nash.

The building was completed in December 1823 at a final cost of £18,323 10s 5d. and was consecrated the following year by the Bishop of London.

Architecture[edit]

The church is built of Bath stone. It consists of a prominent spired circular vestibule,[1] attached to a much more reticent main church by the width of a single intercolumniation. The idiosyncratic spire is composed of seventeen concave sides encircled by a peripteros of Corinthian columns, making two separate sections.

Nash's design was not met with universal praise. A reviewer for The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction 2 August 1828, wrote:

To our eye, the church itself, apart from the tower, (for such it almost is) is perhaps, one of the most miserable structures in the metropolis,—in its starved proportions more resembling a manufactory, or warehouse, than the impressive character of a church exterior; an effect to which the Londoner is not an entire stranger. Here, too, we are inclined to ascribe much of the ridicule, which the whole church has received, to its puny proportions and scantiness of decoration, which are far from being assisted by any stupendousness in their details, the first impression of which might probably have fixed the attention of the spectator. Indeed, the whole style of the tower and steeple appears peculiarly illadapted for so small a scale as has here been attempted.[4]

Crown appointment[edit]

The Rector of All Souls Church is still appointed by the Crown Appointments Commission at 10 Downing Street. The links with the Crown date back to the time of George IV when the Crown acquired the land around the church. The Coat of Arms adorns the West Gallery.

Post-war restoration[edit]

On 8 December 1940, a Luftwaffe parachute mine exploded during the Blitz, and caused some damage to the church, damaging the ceiling. Photographs of the wartime damage showed that most of the building survived, including most of the furnishings.[5] The church was closed for some ten years while repair works were carried out. During this time, the congregation met for worship at St. Peter's, Vere Street.[6] The building was restored and furnishings replaced by respected architect Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel CBE, who is responsible for many celebrated Church interiors, and was also responsible for the restoration and new fittings in 1923-1927. Although many furnishings survived the bombing, such as the pulpit, these, along with the rest of Goodhart-Rendel's work was disposed of in a later renovation campaign.

Mid-1970s building project[edit]

Despite only having recently been fully restored in 1951, the church was again extensively renovated and modified in 1975-1976,[7] in an unusually invasive scheme for a Grade I listed building, under the supervision of then rector, Michael Baughen. A large basement was excavated under the church to provide a church hall and other spaces for the congregation and visitors to meet together after services and during the week. The rebuilt floor was also raised to facilitate this, resulting in the original proportions of the room being significantly changed, resulting in the current squat appearance, with very low ceilings under the galleries, and unusually low windowsills. The gallery fronts were also replaced and date from this time, and the west gallery was also extended forward, now looking rather unusually unsupported for a classical building. The then-new Waldegrave Hall was built in the typical style of the 1970s, with wall-to-wall carpeting and fluorescent lighting. It is also designed in such a way that the original brick foundations of the Church are visible.

At the same time, the opportunity was taken to restructure the interior of the church to make it more suitable for then-present-day forms of worship favoured by the more evangelical wing of the Church of England in the 1970s, and no original furnishing remains apart from the organ case and the reredos. The side altar in the south aisle was also removed, and the area is now used for chair storage. At present, the body of the church is carpeted, and stackable chairs and tables are provided to enable alternative uses of the space.

Organ and music[edit]

All Souls is well known for its musical tradition and part of this includes the Hunter organ installed in the west gallery in a Spanish mahogany case designed by Nash. The case was enlarged and extended in 1913. In 1940, anticipating war damage to the church, the organ was dismantled and put into storage, then in 1951 remodelled and rebuilt, with a new rotatable electric manual and pedal console, and installed in the chancel by the firm of Henry Willis (IV). The organ was again rebuilt, by Harrison & Harrison, during the building project of 1975–1976, when a four-manual console was added, plus a positive division and a pronounced fanfare-trumpet en-chamade.[8] In 1933, John Ivimey was appointed as organist and Director of Music.[9]

Musical worship mixes contemporary and traditional styles, featuring either the church's worship band, orchestra, singing group or choir at all the main regular Sunday services, under the leadership of Michael Andrews. In 1972, the All Souls Orchestra was founded by former director of music and Emeritus Conductor, Noël Tredinnick, and has accompanied Sir Cliff Richard, Stuart Townend and other notable Christian artists. The orchestra and a massed choir perform annually at the Royal Albert Hall for the All Souls "Prom Praise" concert, which also tours across the UK and internationally. "Prom Praise for Schools" is sometimes held alongside Prom Praise, providing children from across the Diocese of London the chance to sing with the All Souls Orchestra. In 2012, the All Souls Orchestra celebrated its 40th anniversary, alongside special guests including Graham Kendrick, Keith & Kristyn Getty, and Jonathan Veira.

Present day[edit]

All Souls celebrates four services each Sunday, with an early morning Holy Communion service at 8:00 am, followed by two other services at 9:30 am and 11:30 am and an evening service at 5:30 pm. There is also a midweek service on Thursdays during term time at 1:05 pm.

Sermons from Sunday services are uploaded for free streaming and download by the following Monday afternoon. The archive now contains over 3,000 sermons.

The church stands in the conservative evangelical tradition of the Church of England.[10] As it rejects the ordination/leadership of women, it receives alternative episcopal oversight from the Bishop of Ebbsfleet (currently Rob Munro).[11]

Clergy[edit]

All Souls' Church interior as viewed from the balcony

The current rector is the Revd Charlie Skrine who was installed on 28 April 2021. Other clergy staff include Rico Tice, who has developed the Christianity Explored course (an introduction to Christian beliefs based on the Gospel of Mark and influenced by the conservative evangelical tradition[12]), Jonny Dyer, Steve Nichols and Luke Ijaz. As a reflection of the huge diversity of the church's congregation (over 60 nationalities represented amongst the c. 2,500 present on Sundays), the staff team has gradually become more international (Kenya, the United States, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Hungary, Korea and Ireland amongst others).

One of the church's most notable clerics was John Stott CBE, who was associated with All Souls for his entire ministry and virtually all his life. The author of more than fifty Christian books, Stott was regarded as an important theologian and leader of the evangelical movement during the 20th century.[13] Stott was a curate at All Souls 1945–1950 and rector 1950–1975. He resigned as rector in 1975 to pursue his wider ministry, but maintained his involvement with the church and was given the title of Rector Emeritus, which he held until his death in 2011. Stott's obituary in Christianity Today described him as "An architect of 20th-century evangelicalism [who] shaped the faith of a generation."[14]

The Revd Richard Bewes was rector from 1983 until his retirement in 2004. He was awarded an OBE for services to the Church of England.

The Revd Hugh Palmer was rector from 2005 until his retirement in 2020. From July 2012 he was also a chaplain to the Queen.[15]

List of rectors[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ a b c d Summerson 1962, p. 220.
  2. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  3. ^ Port, M H. (2006), 600 New Churches: The Church Building Commission 1818–1856 (2nd ed.), Reading: Spire Books, p. 328, ISBN 9781904965084
  4. ^ Byerley & Timbs 1828, p. 66.
  5. ^ "All Souls, Langham Place, London: Elevated view of the nave showing the damage caused by a landmine explosion in 1940".
  6. ^ History A brief look back at the All Souls story so far. Why Are We Here? www.allsouls.org, accessed 3 December 2020
  7. ^ "All Souls, Langham Place : History".
  8. ^ Organ specifications Archived 23 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine www.harrisonorgans.com
  9. ^ "MUSIC APPOINTMENT" in Cheltenham Chronicle dated Saturday 19 August 1933, p. 6
  10. ^ "Job Description – Minister (Pastoral & Discipleship)" (PDF). All Souls Church, Langham Place. 2018. Retrieved 15 August 2020. All Souls Today: In the heart of London's West End All Souls is a conservative evangelical Anglican church with a large and diverse congregation.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Rector - Job Advert". All Souls, Langham Place. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020. Retrieved 26 November 2020.
  12. ^ Jackson, Bob; Fisher, George (2011). Everybody Welcome: The Course Leader's Manual: The Course Where Everybody Helps Grow Their Church. London: Church House Publishing. p. 90. ISBN 978-0715142844. Some courses are more catholic in tone (Knowing God Better), some are conservative evangelical (Christianity Explored), some are broad church (Emmaus) and some are charismatic (Alpha).
  13. ^ In a November 2004 editorial on Stott, The New York Times columnist David Brooks cited Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center as saying that "if evangelicals could elect a pope, Stott is the person they would likely choose."
  14. ^ John Stott Has Died Obituary in Christianity Today www.christianitytoday.com, accessed 3 December 2020
  15. ^ 'Engagements' Archived 2012-10-29 at the Wayback Machine, Duke of York. [accessed 18 August 2012]
  16. ^ Nigel Yates, "Change and Continuity". in Mary Hobbs (ed.) Chichester Cathedral: An Historical Survey (Chichester: Phillimore, 1994), ISBN 0-85033-924-3), p. 126
  17. ^ "York, 86 archbp. of" in Kelly's Handbook to the Titles, Landed & Official Classes (Kelly's Directories, 1875), p. 518: "... rector of All Souls, Langham Place, London 1855–61"
  18. ^ Rev Edward Revel EARDLEY-WILMOT 10712 at thekingscandlesticks.com, accessed 26 April 2019
  19. ^ "ECCLESIASTICAL INTELLIGENCE" in Sheffield Daily Telegraph dated Thursday 23 January 1873, p. 3: "Rev. J. M. Freshfield, M.A. Rector of All Souls, St. Marylebone"
  20. ^ "PREFERMENTS AND APPOINTMENTS" in Bristol Mercury dated Friday 15 November 1878, p. 3: "Rev. Sholto D. C. Douglas, Vicar of All Saints', Derby; Rector of All Souls', Marylebone"; "APPOINTMENTS" in Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer dated Friday 3 December 1886, p. 8: "APPOINTMENTS. The Rev. Sholto D. C. Douglas has resigned the vicarage of All Souls', Langham Place, having come into possession of some large property in Scotland..."
  21. ^ "CHURCHES & CHURCHMEN" in North Wales Chronicle dated Saturday 4 December 1886, p. 7: "Rev William Hay Chapman, vicar of Southborough, rector of All Souls', Langham-place; patron, the Crown"; Chester Chronicle dated 1 July 1893, p. 8: "The Rev. W. Hay Chapman, Rector of All Souls, Langham Place, London, has resigned through ill health."
  22. ^ "ECCLESIASTICAL NEWS PREFERMENTS AND APPOINTMENTS. Rev. Canon J. H. Acheson, M.A., Rector St Peters, Chaster : Rector of All Souls', Langham place." in York Herald dated 3 July 1893, p. 2; "Pall Mall Gazette Office" in Pall Mall Gazette dated 6 April 1898, p. 4: "Lord Berners has presented the Rev. Canon Acheson, rector of All Souls', Langham-place, to the rectory of Kirby-Cane, Norfolk. The vacant living of All Souls, which is worth about £650 ..."
  23. ^ "Webster, Rev. Francis Scott" in Who Was Who: A Companion to Who's Who, Vol. 2 (London: A. & C. Black, 1929), p. 1,104
  24. ^ "Buxton, Arthur" in Crockford's Clerical Directory (1930), p. 190
Sources

External links[edit]

51°31′05″N 0°08′36″W / 51.5180°N 0.1432°W / 51.5180; -0.1432