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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 Waterstone throughout his career (Sheppard, "The Architecture of the Estate").

Left: Central fašade. Right: Three-quarter view from the rear. [Click on images to enlarge them.]

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.

Sources

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). Viewed 31 December 2007.

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

Sources

"The Cruciform Building History." (University College London site)/p>

Donnan, F. G., rev. K. D. Watson. "Collie, John Norman (1859-1942)." The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Viewed 16 October 2007.

Harte, Negley. The University of London, 1836-1986: An Illustrated History. London: Athlone, 1986.

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

Weinreb, Ben and Christopher Hibbert, eds. The London Encyclopaedia. London: Macmillan, rev. ed. 1992.


Created 2007; last modified 23 June 2015