Wednesday, 14 November 2012

All Souls Langham Place: Pray for the BBC

"Pray for the BBC: Corporation staff offered sanctuary in church next to New Broadcasting House"

All Souls, Langham Place is probably most famous as "The church next to the BBC". Designed by John Nash, and opened in 1824, its spire and rotunda-like base act as a knuckle, linking the disjointed axes of Regent Street and Langham Place, part of George IV's development of a grand route to his new Regent's Park. The body of the church therefore sits at a bit of an awkward angle to the tour-de-force. Spires are ultimately a gothic creation, but they remained popular throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries. Everyone from Wren and Hawksmoor to Soane and Dance tried collections of elements, such as colonnades, mini porticoes or massive columns, to produce the effect of a gothic spire but in the classical taste. At All Souls, Nash's solution was a cone surrounded with two tiers of columns arranged in rings.

The church's prominence at then s-shaped junction has over the past 190 years been challenged by increasing building heights, and the creation of Broadcasting House in the 1930s and New Broadcasting House in the 2000s.

Next time you are are at Oxford Circus, look North at its spire and columns.

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