St Paul’s is one of London ’s most beautiful Victorian church buildings, a church that has served the needs of the people of Knightsbridge since the 1840s.
This elaborate and highly decorated building was the first church in London to champion the ideals of the ‘Oxford Movement’ – the so-called ‘Tractarians’ who sought to restore a sense of Catholic order and spirituality to the Established Church, and to enrich its worship by the recovery of its ancient traditions. St Paul’s today remains faithful to the vision of its founding fathers – and here you will meet a group of people who believe God is to be encountered in honesty of preaching, dignity of worship and in ‘the beauty of holiness’.
The building was consecrated in 1843, and the chancel with its rood screen and striking reredos was added in 1892 by the eminent church architect G.F. Bodley who was also responsible for the decoration of St Luke’s Chapel. The whole building is rich in Christian imagery and symbolism: the tiled panels around the walls of the nave, created in the 1870’s by Daniel Bell, depict scenes from the life of Jesus Christ; the 14 Stations of the Cross that intersperse the tiled panels, painted in the early 1920’s by Gerald Moira, show scenes from the Crucifixion story; the font – regularly used to baptise new members of the Christian family – dates from 1842 and is carved with biblical scenes from both the Old and New Testaments; the statues of the Virgin and Child (1896) above the entrance to the Chapel, and of St Paul (1902) above the lectern, together with many other painted and carved depictions of saints and martyrs, testify to the great company of holy men and women who have participated in God’s work of salvation; the pulpit is adorned with symbols of the evangelists; and the whole architecture of the building draws the eye to the High Altar, to which, week by week, God’s faithful draw near to receive the bread and wine of Holy Communion.
The church is featured in ‘London’s 100 Best Churches: an illustrated guide’ by Leigh Hatts (Canterbury Press, Norwich 2010)