Photographs of the exterior by the author. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Photographs of the interior by Andrew Wood, who very kindly allowed them to be reproduced from his London Church Buildings website, which features nearly 1,300 churches and is still growing. [Click on all the images to enlarge them.]

Three views of the west front of the former King's Weigh House Chapel, on Duke Street, off Oxford Street, London. Architect: Alfred Waterhouse. 1889-91. This Grade II* listed chapel constructed with red brick and terracotta dressings takes its curious name from its original foundation as a dissenters' chapel in Eastcheap, above the office for checking the weight of merchandise. The building on the present site was funded by a generous gift from the Duke of Westminster, "the largest gift to a Nonconformist cause, it is said, that has ever been made" (qtd. in Sheppard, "Duke Street Area"). Now a cathedral of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in England, this highly distinctive church may be unnoticed by the millions of shoppers passing along Oxford Street at the top of the road, but it is nevertheless considered a famous Mayfair landmark, and has been much admired. The "Duke Street Area" account continues:

[T]he church and its associated buildings occupy a tightly confined site, and they therefore display Waterhouse's characteristic architectural virtues: stringency, clarity, and mastery of plan [...] The style, a variant of the Carolingian Romanesque of which Waterhouse was fond, particularly suits the mixture of pinkish red brick and plentiful terracotta dressings. The most formal part of the composition naturally faces Duke Street, where the tripartite entrance elevation rises symmetrically to the church's roof level but is then skilfully broken, with a gable and ventilation turret on the left and a sheer tower and steeple on the right.

Another account in the Survey of London adds, "Though a late work, the King's Weigh House Chapel conveys in both conception and detail the energy and compulsiveness so characteristic of Waterhouse throughout his career" (Sheppard, "The Architecture of the Estate").

Left two: The dome looms over the corner of Weighhouse Street and Binney Street. Right: Floral patterning of the lancets, attractive outside as well as inside.

The original congregation was largely made up of wealthy people from the Mayfair area, whose taste may have dictated the internal decoration of the church. Despite its later adaptation as a Ukranian Catholic Church, the basic features of the original interior are still to be seen here.

Interior

Left to right: (a) Looking east towards the chancel. (b) Looking towards the top of the dome. (c) Looking across under the horseshoe gallery to the south aisle. (d) Looking at the columns on the south side with their faience patterning.

From left to right: (a) The east window, with the figures of Moses, Jesus the Good Shepherd, and (Robert Eberhard suggests) the Virgin Mary. (b) In the south of the narthex, one light shows St Matthew. (c) Floral designs like this are seen on the other windows.

The East window was by Robert Anning Bell in 1904, and the window showing St Matthew was by Alexander Sandison, dating from 1880-1901 (see Eberhard). The other windows along Binney Street, with their floral pattern, show the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, seen elsewhere in the area.

Reginald Turnor calls this church "an extraordinary building ... which suggests that the style [Romanesque], if revived, would have done less harm than the Gothic" (99). Turnor is biased against the Gothic, but he is surely right to imply that the church is both interesting and unusual.

Inscription on the south side, on the wall on Binney Street.

Bibliography

Eberhard, Robert. "Stained Glass Windows at Ukranian Cathdl (fmly King's Weigh Hs Chpl)". Church Stained Glass Windows. Web. 12 August 2018.

Sheppard, F. H. W., ed. "The Architecture of the Estate: The Ducal Heyday. The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part I." Survey of London, Vol. 39 (1977). Web. 31 December 2007.

_____."Duke Street Area: Duke Street: East Side." Survey of London, Vol. 40 (1980). Web. 31 December 2007.

Turnor, Reginald. Nineteenth Century Architecture in Britain. London: Batsford, 1950.

"Ukranian Catholic Cathedral (King's Weigh House Church)." Historic England. Web. 12 August 2018.


Created 2007; last modified 12 August 2017