Photographs by Robert Freidus. Text, perspective correction, and formatting by George P. Landow. [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.]
Our Most Holy Redeemer is a much-admired Grade II* listed church designed by John Dando Sedding, 1888, and completed by his Chief Assistant Henry Wilson, 1892-1895. Wilson also designed the Clergy House, parish hall, campanile, and Lady Chapel, 1894-1906, and the Chapel of All Souls, 1921. The sculptural work in the interior was by F. W. Pomeroy. It stands at 24 Exmouth Market, Islington, London EC1R. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
According to the church's own elegant and informative website, which has some interesting early photographs, "The Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer is built on the site of Spa Fields Chapel, also known as Lady Huntingdon’s Chapel, which was an offshoot of the Methodist Church. The parish had been a mission district of St Phillip Granville Square with the Mission formerly in Wilmington Square." It further explains,
The church was built like so many other Anglo-Catholic missions according to the ideals of the Oxford Movement, and like some of its Gothic Revival counterparts was intended to rise up cliff-like and remind the whole neighbourhood of its presence. One is reminded particularly of St Columba Haggerston and St Peter Vauxhall, two other outstanding buildings in poor neighbourhoods like Clerkenwell was at that time. The church felt that the poorest neighbourhoods should get the best churches.
In other words, the late-nineteenth-century High Churchmen who commissioned this church acted much like early Christians who built on or over the foundations of Roman temples, or the Muslims who turned a great Cathedral in Constantinople into a great mosque in Instanbul — they replaced what they took to be a false religion with what they took to be a true one. In this case, the High Church Anglicans replaced an evangelical movement that had originated inside the Church of England that emphasized the Bible, preaching, and emotional conversion with an equally controversial movement that instead emphasized sacrements, church hierarchy, and reviving religious exercises and other practices lost when the Anglican Church separated from the Church of Rome.
As the site points out, Sedding designed Holy Redeemer "in the Italianate style . . . [that] represented a complete departure from the Gothic Revival style prevalent at that time. Sedding’s original design included frescoes but these never materialised. Wilson later extended the church beyond the baldachino and added the Clergy House and hall buildings, but Sedding’s original interior design, which was a cross within a square similar to churches built by Christopher Wren, is still discernable today." One may point out that the choice of an Italianate design when many suspected the adherents of the Oxford Movement of being covert Roman Catholics — a suspicion great aggravated after John Henry Newman's defection to the Church of Rome — made clear that this building represented the opposite of Evangelical Anglicanism, Methodism, and nonconforming denominations. Choosing an Italianate style, in other words, nailed one's colors to the mast for all to see, and in doing so it represents a radical departure from major Tractarian churches, such as the earlier All Saints, Margaret Street (1859) by William Butterfield. However, it is also worth pointing out that the church lies "in the heart of a significant Italian community" (listing text), and that may well have been one consideration when adopting such a style.
Left: A plaque on the outside of the church. Right: The baldachino at the crossing through which one can see the altar.
A view of the interior of Our Most Holy Redeemer with light streaming in through the windows. In the foreground stands the font (1905) designed by Wilson, who was responsible for most of the other original furnishings seen today. According to the listing text, "Wilson's work to the church is particularly fine; and his interesting subsidiary buildings (parish-hall, clergy-house, and especially the campanile) flanking the front facade are extremely clever and idiosyncratic."
"Church of our most Holy Redeemer, Clergy House, campanile & parish hall." Historic England. Web. 18 March 2020
"History." Our Most Holy Redeemer. Web. 24 October 2011 [unfortunately, no longer available].
Last modified 18 March 2020 (updated by JB)