It is a striking building with a circular ground plan, and lit principally by a central domed skylight. The shape is apparently the consequence of the building's history: the original structure was built not as a church, but as somehing called 'Burford's Panorama' - a sort of exhibition-cum-popular entertainment of the late 18th. Century, which was located in a large rotunda. By late Victorian times, this had become rendundant and was purchased in 1865 by Fr. Charles Faure, SM, who had been asked by Cardinal Wiseman to establish a church for London's French community. A church, the first Catholic church to substantially use cast iron in its construction, was designed by the French architect, Louis Auguste Boileau, retaining the circular plan, and consecrated on 11th June 1868.
The church suffered severe bomb damage during WW 2, and although it was able to re-open a year later, full reconstuction was needed in the long term. This took place in the post war years, with the foundation stone being laid in 1953, and consecration in 1955. The round plan was again reatained. The building was decorated during the 1950's with work by eminent artists of the day.
Obviously this is a comparatively modern building, but nonetheless is not unattractive. The large, and airy space of the interior is quite imposing. The sanctuary is dominated by a large tapestry of Our Lady, which forms the equivalent of a reredos. I would recommend a visit if you are in the Leicester Square/ Chinatown area of London.
Liturgy is not really for the traddies, but good if you are in London and wish to hear Mass in French, and if you happen to be French, I get the feeling you would be made welcome here.
|Our Lady's statue above the church entrance|