Notre Dame de France

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Notre Dame de France
Notre Dame de France, Leicester Place WC2 - geograph.org.uk - 1283366.jpg
Entrance to Notre Dame de France
Notre Dame de France is located in City of Westminster
Notre Dame de France
Notre Dame de France
Location of church within Westminster, London
Coordinates: 51°30′41″N 0°07′48″W / 51.511308°N 0.130038°W / 51.511308; -0.130038
Location Soho, London
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website ndfchurch.org
History
Status Active
Founder(s) Father Charles Faure
Dedication Mary (mother of Jesus)
Consecrated 11 June 1868
Architecture
Functional status Parish Church
Heritage designation Grade II
Designated 25-Sep-1998[1]
Architect(s) Louis-Auguste Boileau
Hector Corfiato
Architectural type Cast-iron, Circular
Administration
Archdiocese Westminster

Notre Dame de France is a French Catholic church in London's Soho. It is located on Leicester Place just north of Leicester Square.

History[edit]

Interior of Notre Dame de France

The origins of the church date back to the mid 1800s, however, the building itself is earlier. In 1861, Cardinal Wiseman, Archbishop of Westminster, asked the Marist Fathers to establish a mission to support the large French community in the area, and placed Father Charles Faure in charge of the project.[2] On 25 March 1865, Father Faure purchased a circular building off Leicester Square. It was known as Burford's Panorama and was an early form of visual entertainment in the West End, built as a tourist attraction in the early 1800s.[2] Faure employed the services of French architect Louis-Auguste Boileau, an early promoter of cast iron architecture, to transform this building into a church. He retained the rotunda, hence the circular shape of the present building. Upon consecration in 1868, it was the first cast-iron church built in London.

World War II[edit]

During the Battle of Britain in 1940, the church was badly damaged by bombing. The following year, it re-opened after extensive structural repairs overseen by Father Laurent.[2] However, it still needed much work, and it was not until 1948 that repairs were completed under the supervision of the new Superior, Father Deguerry and with the support of French Ambassador Jean Chauvel, the French cultural attaché René Varin and the British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden. René Varin encouraged the creation of a sacred space that would honour France. In the period between 1953 and 1960, he approached eminent artists of the time to work on the decoration of the rebuilt church.[2]

The architect for the rebuilding of the church in 1953-55 was Hector Corfiato.[3]

Organ[edit]

The organ was built by August Gern in 1868. It was enlarged in 1938 by J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd, dismantled during the 1940 blitz of London and rebuilt in 1955 by J.W. Walker & Sons. It was renovated in 1986 and modernised and refurbished by B.C. Shepherd & Son in 2010.

Pastoral services[edit]

The modern church provides pastoral services to the growing French community in London, and has developed a series of charitable and evangelizing initiatives with other local Catholic churches of the West End.

References[edit]