The present church was designed by James Gibbs. Work started in 1772 and the building was completed in 1722. Recently, the church has undergone a £36-million facelift by Eric Parry Architects, which won a Europa Nostra Award.
Part of the facelift turned the crypt into a bistro, a highly imaginative use of space and exposing the original brickwork lends considerable character, as do the headstones that form the floor.
The church also plays host to musical concerts — evening concerts by candlelight, free lunchtime concerts and also jazz concerts in the crypt.
I was lucky enough to attend an evening concert during my trip to London. The Belmont Ensemble of London, conductor Peter G Dyson, played works by Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. With the strains of Baroque music filling the church’s opulent interior, it was not difficult to imagine being among London society of the 18th century, the women with their low-cut gowns, the men resplendent in their wigs and finery.
The concert, and the magnificient setting, will live long in my memory, an experience to be treasured. My only regret was not to have been able to catch a concert featuring a choral work, such as the one on May 7, when The English Chamber Choir will perform Mozart’s Requiem.
That’s something to look forward to on my next trip.