At St Michael & All Angels, Shoreditch
You walk through the door and it as if you walked into the mansion of Charles Foster Kane – such is the overwhelming collection of unlikely paraphernalia that you encounter when you visit St Michael & All Angel’s, Shoreditch.
Deconsecrated long ago, the handsome High Victorian Gothic church of 1865, designed by James Brooks, has been a showroom for Westland architectural salvage since 1977 and the eclectic display of statues, fireplaces and chandeliers in this setting is a breathtaking spectacle to behold. In his ‘Buildings of England,’ Sir Niklaus Pevsner wrote, “The whole is an eminently picturesque fantasy and it is a great shame that it has fallen into such shocking neglect,” yet today it has found an alternative role that proposes a strange complement to its fanciful design.
The surrealism of multiple architectural elements from different eras arranged in random combination within a disorienting labyrinth of rooms on two floors within the church is as intoxicating as any film by Jean Cocteau. You feel you are walking through chambers in the unconscious mind of some deranged architect or a netherworld of architectural keepsakes assembled by an acquisitive time-traveller.
The church and adjoining clergy house
St Michael & All Angels, Leonard St, Shoreditch, 1865
In a strange precursor of its current use, this engraving of 1865 shows the makeshift church built within the structure while it was under construction.
Westland, St Michael & All Angels’ Church, Leonard St, EC2A 4QX
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