Touching Place

 

MOST HOLY REDEEMER, CLERKENWELL

The sight of a Renaissance Italian basilica whose façade bears the inscription Christo Liberatori is not totally out of keeping with the 21st c. Clerkenwell of the street market and pavement cafes, ristorantes and trattorias, but it is still something of a surprise. Opening (and open) on to Exmouth Market, it proclaims its purpose.

To Pugin and many of his contemporaries, you had to be a Christian architect in order to design Christian churches, and John Dando Sedding, the architect of Holy Redeemer, was a very serious High Churchman. He has claims to be the most versatile of the top Victorian architects, as at the time of the consecration of Holy Redeemer in 1888, he was well advanced in the

celebrated Arts and Crafts Gothic church of Holy Trinity, Sloane Street, Chelsea (consecrated 1890). The campanile was added in 1906 and the Institute on the other side in 1916, both designed by Sedding’s collaborator, Henry Wilson.

The furnishings, notably the altars generously scattered throughout, shout aloud the purpose of the church. In the Lady Chapel, you will find statues of the Curé of Ars and the Holy Infant of Prague (not yet an everyday feature of church furnishing), whilst the All Souls’ altar in the north aisle bears unbleached wax candles. The striking Stations of The Cross (1931) are by J.E. Crawford of Martin Travers’ studios, closely similar to the set in St Augustine’s, Queen’s Gate. The whole interior is dominated by a baldachino, which, like much of the church, was modelled upon Brunelleschi’s great church of Santo Spirito in Florence; the Big Six on the high altar proclaim the spirituality that has marked the church since its completion.

Give thanks for Jesus, Our Lord, Saviour and Redeemer, for the gospel of redemption, sin pardoned, man restored.

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