Saturday, 24 August 2013

London Churches 1 - Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane

I see that my friend Zephyrinus has decided to move on from Cathedrals and go parochial in Ireland   :-) .  This gave me the idea of doing some posts on my favourite London Catholic churches, and I am starting with one for which I have a particular affection, namely Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane.

Church Exterior

The following passage is taken from the Corpus Christi parish website:

'The Parish of Maiden Lane is situated in the Westminster Deanery. It was founded in 1873 and consecrated on the 18th of October, 1956. Often referred to as the “hidden gem” of the West End, the then Archbishop Cardinal Henry Manning said during his homily at the opening mass that “a sanctuary has been opened to be specifically devoted to the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament”.
This was the first church dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament after the Reformation. The famous hymns Sweet Sacrament Divine and O Sacred Heart were written by the parish priest Fr Francis Stanfield (1835-1914). It is also known as “the actors’ church” and is the home of the Catholic Association of the Performing Arts (formerly, the Catholic Stage Guild).
A very famous priest visitor to the parish over many years was
Monsignor Ronald Knox. He first preached his Forty Hours Sermon
in 1926, at the invitation of Father Kearney. This became a regular
feature in Mgr Knox’s dairy from 1926 until 1956. These sermons were
published BY Burns and Oates in 1956 under the title “The Window in the
Wall”, and the charming and touching dedication of this book is, “To the
memory of Father Kearney and to his successors.”
For decades the Latin Mass Society has also celebrated Mass here. A young adults’ prayer group meets here weekly and this is a vibrant place of worship and an oasis of prayer and calm – open all day long for visitors, tourists, those who work and live nearby and shoppers to pause and pray.'
The church is located in Maiden Lane, on the south side of Covent Garden, and has an imposing frontage in polychromatic brickwork. The floor level is several feet below that of the pavement outside and so one descends a short flight of steps to enter the church, being first 'greeted' by a welcoming statue of the Sacred Heart.

The Sacred Heart statue at the entrance

Inside, there are a number of interesting features, including a shrine to Our Lady in a side chapel on the gospel side, and a large and imposing crucifix, which was recently restored following desecration and breakage by vandals. there is also a statue of St. Genesius the comic, patron of actors, recalling the church's long assocition with the theatrical profession (it is generally regarded as the Catholic counterpart to the Anglican St. Paul's, Covent Garden - the 'actors' church' - a number of the pews still retain plaques with the names of various theatrical personages from the days when these were reserved for them).

Church Interior

The vandalised Crucifix - thishas now been restored

The reredos features an interesting exposition throne, with three angels swinging thuribles about the Blessed Sacrament.

The High Altar

The church is currently undergoing a major refurbishment, which will include the removal of paint and artex from various 20th. Century redecorations, to reveal the original stone and polychromatic brick. It should look splendid when finished.

As mentioned on the website, the church has a long association with the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales (their offices were for many years located in the presbytery) - Mass is celebrated in the Usus Antiquior (usually as a Missa Cantata) every Monday evening at 6.30, and at the same time on most Holy Days of Obligation, as well as some other occasions. There is also something of a tradition for the choir and servers, and members of the congregation to visit one of the numeorus excellent local hostalries for a pint, and perhaps a bite to eat, after Mass.

High Mass in the Extraordinary Form


  1. Excellent Post, Matthaeus. Thank You.

    Will all your London Churches have the tradition of visiting a local hostelry after Mass ?

    How wonderful.

  2. Zephy,
    Sadly not all, but I will be sure to indicate where applicable.


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