All Saints, Margaret Street

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All Saints, Margaret Street, is an Anglican church in London built in the High Victorian Gothic style by the architect William Butterfield and completed in 1859.

The church is situated on the north side of Margaret Street in Fitzrovia, near Oxford Street, within a small courtyard. Two other buildings face onto this courtyard: one is the vicarage and the other (formerly a choir school) now houses the parish room and flats for assistant priests.

All Saints is noted for its architecture, style of worship and musical tradition.


All Saints had its origins in the Margaret Street Chapel which had "proceeded upwards through the various gradations of Dissent and Low-Churchism"<ref name=historical>Template:Cite book</ref> until 1829, when the Tractarian William Dodsworth became its incumbent. Dodsworth later converted to Roman Catholicism, as did one of his successors, Frederick Oakeley. Before his resignation from the post, Oakeley, who was later to describe the chapel as "a complete paragon of ugliness"<ref name=historical/> had conceived the idea of rebuilding the chapel in what he considered a correct ecclesiastical style, and had collected a sum of almost £30,000 for the purpose.<ref name=revival/> He was succeeded at the chapel by his assistant William Upton Richards, who decided to carry on with the scheme.<ref name=revival/>

In 1845, Alexander Beresford Hope realised that this scheme could be combined with the project of the Cambridge Camden Society to found a model church. His proposal met with the approval of Upton Richards, George Chandler, rector of All Souls, and Charles Blomfield, the Bishop of London. It was decided that the architectural and ecclesiological aspects of the project would be put entirely under the control of the Cambridge Camden Society, who appointed Sir Stephen Glynne and Beresford Hope to oversee the work. In the event, Glynne was unable to take an active part, and Beresford Hope took sole charge.<ref name=revival/>

William Butterfield was selected as the architect and the site in Margaret Street purchased for £14,500. <ref name=revival>Template:Cite book</ref> The last service at the old chapel was held on Easter Monday, 1850, and the foundation stone of the new building was laid on All Saints' Day of that year by Edward Bouverie Pusey. Services were held in a temporary chapel in Titchfield Street for the next nine years, until the new church was finally consecrated on 28 May 1859. The total cost of the church, including the site and endowments was around £70,000; several large individual donations helped to fund it.<ref name=eastlake>Template:Cite book</ref>


Architecturally, All Saints marked a new stage in the Gothic Revival. Charles Locke Eastlake called the design "a bold and magnificent endeavour to shake off the trammels of antiquarian precedent, which had long fettered the progress of the Revival, to create not a new style, but a development of previous styles".<ref name=revival/> The church is a Grade I listed building.

Butterfield departed considerably from medieval Gothic practice.<ref name=revival/> He used red brick for the church, a material long out of use in London, with the walls banded and patterned in black brick and the spire banded with stone, making it the first example of 'permanent polychrome' in the city. The interior is richly patterned, with inlays of marble and tile.<ref name=hrh>Template:Cite book</ref>

The east wall of the chancel is covered by a series of painting on gilded boards, the work of Ninian Comper and a restoration of earlier work by William Dyce. The Lady Chapel is also by Comper. The north wall is dominated by a large ceramic tile frieze which was designed by Butterfield. It depicts a variety of figures from the Old Testament, a central Nativity scene and depictions of Early Church Fathers, painted by Alexander Gibbs and fired by Henry Poole and Sons in 1873.

The stained glass windows are limited in All Saints due to the density of buildings around the church and are mostly located in the upper part of the building. The original windows were designed by Alfred Gerente but his work was not held in high regard and was subsequently replaced. The large west window, which was originally fitted with glass by Gerente in 1853-58, was replaced in 1877 with a design by Alexander Gibbs based on the Tree of Jesse window in Wells Cathedral. The glass in the clerestory dates from 1853 and is the work of Michael O'Connor, who also designed the east window of the south chancel aisle which depicts Christ in Majesty with St Edward and St Augustine.

The baptistery in the south-west corner of the church is noted for its marble tiling which features an image of the Pelican in her Piety in the ceiling tiles, a symbol of the fall and redemption of man.


The church's style of worship is Anglo-Catholic, "the Catholic faith as taught by the Church of England", offering members and visitors a traditional style of liturgy, as advocated by the Oxford Movement of the mid-nineteenth century, including ritual, choir and organ music, vestments and incense. Fr Cyril Tomkinson (vicar 1943–51), rebuking a visiting priest who asked for the use of the Roman Missal, said "the rule here is music by Mozart, choreography by Fortescue, decor by Comper, but libretto by Cranmer". Masses are now generally according to the liturgy of Common Worship (with the High Mass on Sunday according to Order 1 in traditional language), while the offices are still prayed according to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

The vicar is Fr Alan Moses, assisted by Fr John Pritchard, Fr Gerald Beauchamp and Fr Julian Browning.


  • 1859–73 William Upton Richards
  • 1873–86 Bermore Compton
  • 1886–1905 William Allen Whitworth
  • 1905-8 George Frederick Holden
  • 1908–34 Henry Falconar Barclay Mackay
  • 1934–42 Dom Bernard Clements OSB
  • 1943–51 Cyril Edric Tomkinson
  • 1951–69 Kenneth Needham Ross
  • 1969–75 Michael Eric Marshall
  • 1976–81 David Alan Sparrow
  • 1982-5 David Michael Hope
  • 1986–95 David Handley Hutt
  • 1995– Leslie Alan Moses


  • Sunday
    • High Mass at 11.00 am
    • Morning Prayer at 10.20 am
    • Low Mass at 8.00 am and 5.15 pm
    • Solemn Evensong and Benediction at 6.00 pm


  • Monday to Friday
    • Morning Prayer at 7.30 am
    • Low Mass at 8.00 am, 1.10 pm and 6.30 pm
    • Confessions from 12.30 to 1.00 pm and 5.30 pm
    • Evening Prayer at 6.00 pm
  • Saturday
    • Morning Prayer at 7.30 am
    • Low Mass at 8.00 am and 6.30 pm (first Mass of Sunday)
    • Confessions at 5.30 pm
    • Evening Prayer at 6.00 pm
  • Weekday Solemnities (please see notices)
    • High Mass at 6.30pm


A choir school was established at the church in 1843, which provided music for daily choral services. The choir was widely recognised for its excellence and choristers sang at the Coronations of Edward VII (1902), George V (1911), George VI (1937) and Elizabeth II (1953) as well as at Victoria's Jubilees (1887 and 1897). Amongst its alumni is Laurence Olivier. The school closed in 1968, at which point the boys' voices were replaced by sopranos.

The present-day choir maintains the exacting standards of its predecessors, and is now led by Organist and Director of Music, Paul Brough.

The repertoire for choir and organ stretches from before the Renaissance to the 21st century and includes several pieces commissioned for the church, most famously Walter Vale's arrangement of Rachmaninoff's Liturgy of St John Chrysostom and All-Night Vigil for Western-Rite Mass and Evensong respectively. Rachmaninoff heard Vale's adaptations during his two visits to the church, in 1915 and 1923, and pronounced his approval of them. They are still sung on Palm Sunday.

All Saints' organ is a superb four-manual Harrison and Harrison instrument with 65 speaking stops, built in 1910 to a specification drawn up by Walter Vale. It retains the best of the pipe work of its predecessor, the original and considerably smaller Hill organ. Though as big as those found in most cathedrals, it is perfectly tailored to All Saints' smaller dimensions – powerful, but not excessively so, sounding intimate when played quietly, and monumental when loud. Harrison rebuilt it in 1957, replacing the tubular pneumatic action with electro-pneumatic. Electrical blowers replaced the hydraulic blowing plant.

The tonal changes made to 10 stops in 1957 – like those made to many other organs at that time – altered the tone of the instrument, to a very limited extent, to a more 'classical' sound. Therefore, when the organ next required major restoration work, the decision was taken to try to restore the sound nearer to that of 1910: to return it to an 'Edwardian Romantic' organ. The completed restoration was celebrated with two inauguration concerts in March 2003.

Organists have included Richard Redhead, the first organist and remembered today as the composer of Rock of Ages and Bright the Vision, Walter Vale (1907–1939), William Lloyd Webber (1939–1948), John Birch (1953–58), Michael Fleming (1958–68) and Harry Bramma (1989–2004), many of whom wrote music for use at All Saints and beyond.

Directors of Music (selected)
  • Richard Redhead 1839 – 1864
  • Christopher Edwin Willing 1860 – 1868
  • William Stevenson Hoyte
  • Walter S. Vale 1907 – 1939
  • William Lloyd Webber 1939 – 1948
  • John Williams 1949 – 1951
  • Garth Benson 1952 – 1953
  • John Birch 1953 – 1958
  • Michael Fleming 1958 – 1968
  • (James) Eric Arnold 1968 – 1988
  • Murray Stewart 1988 – 1989
  • Harry Bramma 1989 – 2004
  • Paul Brough<ref name=asms_music>Template:Cite web</ref> 2004 – 2013
  • Timothy Byram-Wigfield 2013

See also

Template:External media

  • List of churches and cathedrals of London



Further reading

  • Almedingen, E. M. (1945) Dom Bernard Clements: a portrait. London: John Lane

External links

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Template:London churches