The Church of St.Mary Le Strand – “The Jewel in the Strand “
St Mary le Strand Church has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for an exciting resilience project. St Mary le Strand stands at the heart of the Strand-Aldwych district in London and is in many ways “The Jewel in the Strand’. This resilience project will enable this beautiful church to reopen after lockdown and prepare for the transformation of the area as this part of the Strand is pedestrianised. Projects will start straightaway activities planned, including a symbolic reopening of the church as it and the Strand become traffic-free on the 11th September 11.00 – 16.00
St Mary le Strand is often called an ‘island church’ because it is right in the middle of the road with traffic moving either side. For many years it has been cut off by the busy roads and inaccessible to visitors; a major public realm scheme will see this section of the Strand pedestrianised. St Mary le Strand Church will be liberated from the traffic and become the centrepiece of this new piazza. The grant will enable the church to re-engage with its local community and become open to residents, visitors, tourists, office workers and students.
St Mary le Strand has a rich history. After the Great Fire of London destroyed so much of central London there was an Act of Parliament to create 50 new city churches. St Mary le Strand is often said to be the loveliest Baroque church in England, designed by James Gibbs, built between 1714 and 1723 and consecrated in 1724. The Italianate building with its intricate spire dominates the triumphal route along the Strand from Trafalgar Square to the City of London. Architecturally, there is a two-storey effect – Ionic and Corinthian orders on the exterior and Corinthian and Composite on the inside, with windows only on the upper level because of the noise of traffic (substantial even in the eighteenth century!)
St Mary le Strand is celebrating 300 years of history and beginning an exciting new chapter in its story.
Commenting on the award, the Priest in Charge Canon Peter Babington said: “We are thrilled to have received this support and are confident the project will enable us to re-open St Mary le Strand as a place that is open to all.”
Ruth Duston OBE, OC Chief Executive of the Northbank BID said: “There is huge opportunity for St Mary le Strand to take an active role in the area’s recovery, supporting peoples’ wellbeing is a high priority.”
The Church and Pedestrianisation
The Church is situated in a central island on the Strand and by default will become, at least physically, an integral part of the Strand Aldwych Project (https://strandaldwych.org). The now-approved proposals will transform the Strand between Waterloo Bridge and Arundel Street into a public space for people rather than a space dominated by vehicles. Aldwych will be converted to two-way traffic, rather than the current one way gyratory system. Part of the design intent of the Strand Aldwych scheme is ‘to create a sanctuary’ around the Church which fits with its own plans to be a place for quiet contemplation.
About St Mary le Strand
We are an Anglican parish church in the Diocese of London. This is the parish church of the united parish of St Mary le Strand with St Clement Danes. The church of St Clement Danes, which stands just to the east, was gutted by an incendiary bomb in 1941 but beautifully restored after the Second World War to become the Central Church of the Royal Air Force.
In 1982 St Mary Le Strand was chosen to become the official church of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, the Women’s Royal Naval Reserve and the Association of Wrens. The dedication took place on 28 October 1984 when the WRNS Book of Remembrance was moved to the church from the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. The Association holds it annual Carol Service in December and details of that can be found in ‘The Wren’.
St Mary le Strand
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