Welcome to All Souls, the onlysurviving church built byrenowned regency architect, JohnNash. It is one of the “WaterlooChurches” built to express thenation’s thanksgiving to God for victory over Napoleon in 1815,and was erected in 1822-24.
John Nash & All Souls
In the early 19th century, newchurches were needed to serve therapidly growing population of StMarylebone. John Nash was working on his Regent Streetscheme (leading from PiccadillyCircus to Regents Park), and thesite for All Souls ﬁtted in splendidly, giving scope for a landmark building to close the vista from OxfordCircus and swing his new road round to join the existing Portland Place. All Souls is built of Bath stone and is simply an ornate, but ordinary, galleried hall, or a wide nave withno transepts. It is entered through a rotunda surrounded by a portico with Ionic columns, whose capitalsare made of artiﬁcial Coade stone. The winged cherubs’ heads are unusual and based on a design byMichelangelo. The unique spire consists of 17 concave sides encircled by Corinthian columns. Originally,a stone balustrade ran all round the roof, but after part fell onto the pavement early in the 20th century,most was removed and only the part on the rotunda remains today.There is no east window; instead, the interior is dominatedby the painting ‘
’ (‘Behold the Man’), whichdepicts Jesus Christ during his trial before Pontius Pilate (asrelated in John 18:28-40). It was painted by Richard Westall(later drawing master to the young Princess Victoria) and probably presented to All Souls by King George IV. Nash was responsible for the church’s interior, though most of hisdesigns were lost, apart from the mahogany case housing thecentral body of the gallery organ. Over the years, theinstrument has been replaced and remodelled and the caseextended, ﬁtted with new gilded front pipes.Nash’s design was greeted in some quarters with derision.The combination of Gothic spire and classical rotunda wascriticized, and the distinctive tower and spire was castigatedin the House of Commons as “a mass of deformity”,“resembling an extinguisher on a ﬂat candlestick”. Theinfamous cartoonist George Cruikshank, even depicted Nashimpaled on his spire
All Souls was completed in 1824 and consecrated on 25November. It seated 1500 people in high boxed pews and there was just one service each Sunday. No doubt in partbecause of the up and coming nature of Marylebone, thechurch rapidly became fashionable, and full.
All Souls has always had strong connections to the Crown and these remain today. The Prince Regent (ashe then was) ﬁrst bought the land on which the church was built, selected his favourite architect to build
West Side of Langham Place
by Thomas Shepherd (1828)
ALL SOULS CHURCH, LANGHAM PLACE, LONDON W1 Visitor Information