Name: St. Mary le Strand
Address: Strand. WC2R 1ES
Web Site: http://www.stmarylestrand.org/
Email: See website
Please visit the website for times of services and details of other events.
This is the parish church of the united parish of St Mary le Strand with St Clement Danes.
St. Mary le Strand is a Church of England Church in the centre of the Strand, one of London’s principal and most ancient thoroughfares. Its elegant proportions testify to the skill of the architect, James Gibbs, and the Church’s near-perfect design confronts all who have eyes to see with the perfection of beauty which is God himself.
Our mission is to serve all who work and live in the vicinity of the Strand. The local community is one of the most varied in central London. Near neighbours include the BBC World Service, Somerset House and the Courtauld Institute, King’s College London, the London School of Economics, Australia House and India House. Our Church school, St. Clement Danes, has children from many backgrounds and there are at least twenty mother tongues represented within the school. The Church is a point of connection between these varied and culturally diverse institutions. In our witness to the love of God we look to Christ as the one who prayed that all who follow him might be one. This vision gives substance to our desire to be an agent of God’s unifying love.
St. Mary le Strand is in the heart of historic London. Our present parish incorporates the former parish of nearby St. Clement Danes Church. This former parish church was destroyed by bombing in 1941 and was magnificently restored in the 1950s to become the central Church of the Royal Air Force.
The parish boundary extends from Temple Bar, across the Royal Courts of Justice to the South side of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, across Kingsway to Drury Lane and round Aldwych to just east of Waterloo Bridge, from where it runs eastwards along the River Thames. A small detached part of the parish covers the area between the Savoy and Adelphi hotels.
St Mary Le Strand is said to be the loveliest Baroque church in England. Designed by James Gibbs, built between 1714 and 1723 and consecrated in 1724, the Italianate building with its intricate spire dominates the triumphal route along the Strand from Trafalgar Square to the City of London. Architecturally, there is a two-story effect Ionic and Corinthian orders on the exterior and Corinthian and Composite on the inside.
Below the foundations of the church are traces of Roman, Saxon and Medieval London, when the Strand was a vital link between the City of London and the Royal and Monastic settlement at Westminster. In the later Middle ages and Tudor times, the Strand was lined with the sumptuous town houses of Bishops and nobles, many of whose names are preserved in side roads and alleys. The original parish church stood to the south of the present building and was demolished in 1549 when Edward, Duke of Somerset, built his new palace (the first Somerset House). Somehow a congregation kept going without its own church for over 150 years.
Then in 1711, an act of Parliament was passed for the building of 50 new churches around London and the opportunity was taken to rebuild St Mary’s church on the present site. The Architect, James Gibbs (1682-1754), was a Scottish Roman Catholic who had studied in Rome. The church has survived both the London Blitz and major redevelopment schemes in the area.
Things to Notice
Fine carvings on the exterior: swags and cherubs under the window hoods, foliage, fruit and books around the apse and ribbons with tassels on the churchyard gateposts. Inside: ornate ceiling and richly-decorated apse; George I coat of arms; handsome carvings on the pulpit and doorcases; original marble font. In 1785, the American artist Mather Browne completed the two paintings in the sanctuary.
The Association of Wrens
The church became the official church of the former Women’s Royal Naval Service in 1984. The book of Remembrance in the glass case near the organ records the names of those Wrens who died in the service from the First World War onwards.
Worship and Mission
The church is an Anglican parish church in the Diocese of London. The form of worship is broadly traditional, with congregational participation and a welcoming atmosphere. The Eucharist is celebrated at least twice a week, and the church is often open on weekdays for quiet prayer and meditation. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the church.
The church is also an ideal setting for concerts. Lunchtime recitals are held regularly and there are often evening concerts as well.