Name: Eglise Francaise Protestante
Address: 8/9 Soho Square. W1D 3QD
Please visit the website for times of services and details of other events.
L´Eglise Protestante Française de Londres a été fondée en 1550 par la charte royale d´Edouard VI accordant la liberté de culte aux réfugiés protestants wallons et français. Elle est installée à Soho Square depuis 1893.
De tradition réformée, l´Eglise est aujourd´hui une communauté ouverte à diversité confessionnelle. Des francophones d’horizons multiples s´y retrouvent au culte chaque dimanche.
The church was founded on July 24, 1550 when Edward VI gave a charter to Protestant refugees led by a Polish minister, Jean a Lasco. The charter granted to the refugees the right to worship according to their own manner and to establish a church at Austin Friars in the City of London. As some of the refugees spoke Dutch and others spoke French, the two congregations separated and the French Huguenots moved to a church in Threadneedle Street which they were to occupy from 1550 to 1841, The Threadneedle Street church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 but rebuilt within three years. Following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis XIV of France in 1685, many other French churches were founded in London; not one of these has survived to the present time. In 1841, the church moved from Threadneedle Street to St. Martin’s-Le-Grand where it remained until 1887. The present site was chosen because many French residents and industries were to be found in Soho at the close of the 19th century. By the charter of 1550, the names of new pastors were to be submitted to the sovereign for approbation. This is still observed today,
The church was conceived by Sir Aston Webb (1849-1930) who maintained this church was the favourite of his buildings. He is renowned as the designer of such London landmarks as Admiralty Arch, the Mall and the fronts of Buckingham Palace and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The church is in the Franco-Flemish Gothic Style of dark brick, and brown and black terracotta. The upper part of the front is largely brick construction, with a gable topped by a cross at the level of the third storey. The ground floor has five round-arched openings and is faced with terracotta. There is no spire, but the church is topped by a small timber cupola. The interior is striped in brown and buff terracotta, supplied by Doulton’s of Lambeth. The church is a Grade III listed building.
Doctrine and style of worship
The Sunday services are conducted in modern French, with Bible readings, the singing of psalms and hymns, sermons and the two sacraments of baptism and holy communion, according to the liturgy of the Reformed Church of France. The church provides supporting activities such as Sunday school, catechism classes, Bible study, etc.
The congregation comes from various parts of London and the Home Counties. A number of people come from the South Kensington area, where there is a concentration of French institutions (Embassy, Consulate, Lycee Français, etc) and others from south-west London.
The number of French families residing permanently in the United Kingdom is declining, their place being taken by French professional families staying only a few years in London; there are also young people here in short-term employment or for studies. However the congregation is not exclusively Protestant; it is ecumenical. Many nationalities are represented. Apart from the French there are British, Belgians, Italians (Waldesian), Swiss and citizens of other countries that have a French-speaking tradition. The church magazine Le Lien is circulated to about five hundred persons.
The church has links with the Church of England and with the churches of the area of Westminster. It has associations with other Reformed churches in the United Kingdom, including the French churches of Canterbury and Brighton and the Swiss and Dutch churches of London. Abroad, the church maintains relations with the Federation Protestante de France, which embraces this latter country’s major protestant churches. Through a commission of the Federation, the church is in touch with other French protestant churches throughout the world.