Exterior photographs by the author; interior ones by Contributing Photographer Colin Price. 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. Click on images to enlarge them.
Two views of King's Weigh House Chapel. Duke Street, off Oxford Street, London. Architect: Alfred Waterhouse. 1889-91. This 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 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: Central façade. Right: Three-quarter view from the rear.
Left: An example of the paired windows along Weighhouse Street. Right: Panel commemorating the completion ("erection") of the church in 1891.
The original congregation was largely made up of wealthy people, whose taste may have dictated the internal decoration of the church. The East window (not shown here) was by Robert Anning Bell, and other windows along Weighhouse Street, with their floral pattern, show the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, seen elsewhere in the area.
Left: Looking towards the altar. Right: Closer view of the altar. In its present use as the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in London, the church interior naturally looks different from the way it would have looked originally, but some structural features (notably the horseshoe gallery, supported by pillars faced with faience), as well as the stained glass, would be the same. According to the listing text, "pews [were] introduced and pulpit removed for Ukranian Cathedral with a confessional by J.F. Bentley from Westminster Cathedral.
From left to right: (a) The painted ceiling seen through the elaborate chandelier. (b) Below the gallery: note the confessional here, and also the pillar faced with faience. (c) View of two of the floral windows from inside.
"The King's Weigh House Chapel / Ukranian Catholic Cathedral / Ukranian Catholic Cathedral (King's Weigh House Church)." Historic England. Web. 23 November 2023.
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.
Created 2007; last modified 23 November 2023