Christ Church, Broadway, Westminster

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Above: Looking west, with Victoria Victoria Street on the left, at the junction with Broadway, where Christ Church Gardens can be seen.

If you walk down Victoria Street, from Westminster Abbey, you will eventually come to a cross-roads with the narrow street called Strutton Ground on your left and Broadway on your right. On one of the two corners on the Broadway side of Victoria Street is a large open space that was once the site of a splendid church called Christ Church.

The land started as a burial ground for the church of St Margaret, Westminster (which stands beside Westminster Abbey) which was given for this purpose in 1625. In 1638-42 a chapel of ease called Broadway Chapel was built on part of the land. This was, in turn, replaced by Christ Church, built by Sir Ambrose Poynter in 1841-44. Several famous people were interred in the churchyard.

Colonel Thomas Blood (c1618-80) was buried here. His epitaph read: ‘Here lies the man who boldly hath run through | Move villainies than England ever knew.’ Blood was an Irish absentee landlord, a bogus medical practitioner, a kidnapper and a thief. He almost succeeded in stealing the Crown Jewels. After being caught, he so impresses King Charles II that he escaped punishment and regained his estates. After his death, his body was exhumed for recognition because it was suspected that he faked his own funeral to avoid paying heavy damages in a lawsuit.

Wenseslaus Hollar (1607-77) was buried here. He was a native of Prauge and was brought to England in 1636 by Thomas, second Earl of Arundel. Hollar taught drawing to Prince Charles (later Charles II). Hollar made a long panorama of the north bank of the Thames from the top of church tower of what is now called Southwark Cathedral.

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Above: The 1843 church with its elegant, tall spire.

The church was destroyed in the Blitz in 1941. The remains of the church were demolished in 1947 and the site became an open space, being converted into a public garden in 1950. The parish was united with St Peter, Eaton Square. The original site was laid out as a simple grassed plot bounded by a low brick wall with stone coping, which was formerly surmounted by the iron railings of the church. There are no monuments remaining in what was the old churchyard.

Adjacent to the garden is a bronze statue commemorating Henry Purcell  by Glynn Williams, erected in 1995. The Suffragette Monument, in fibreglass by Edwin Russell, was erected 1970, set in a paved area. There was some re-landscaped with paving, seating and formal planting in 2009-10.

-ENDS-

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