All Saints Church - Margaret Street - London W1
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 famous for its architecture, its style of worship and its 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" 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" 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. He was succeeded at the chapel by his assistant William Upton Richards, who decided to carry on with the scheme.
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.
William Butterfield was selected as the architect, and a piece of land was bought in Margaret Street for £14,500. Construction began in 1849, the foundation stone having been laid by Edward Pusey. The total cost of the church, including the site and endowments was around £70,000; several large individual donations helped to fund it.
Architecturally, it is an expression of the Gothic Revival. It is described by K. Theodore Hoppen, in his volume of the New Oxford History of England, as Butterfield's "savage masterpiece", while Ian Nairn said "To describe a church as an orgasm is bound to offend someone; yet this building can only be understood in terms of compelling, overwhelming passion".
Butterfield departed considerably from medieval Gothic practice. 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.
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 church is a Grade I listed building.
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), whilst 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.