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|Location||Spitalfields, London, England map|
|Date||1715 to 1729 timeline|
|Construction System||bearing masonry|
|Style||Georgian English Baroque|
|Notes||Dramatic Georgian steeple rising from a grand portico.|
|Discussion||Christ Church Commentary
Christ Church, Spitalfields, is one of the Fifty New Churches, commissioned by the Act of Parliament of 1711 to be built on open sites in outlying areas of the City of London, which were experiencing rapid growth.
Built on a longitudinal west-east axis, Christ Church's west front terminates the facing street with a monumental steeple, which punctuates the simple rectangular massing of the body of the church. The steeple rises directly behind a grand portico, raised by steps from the street. The portico has a Palladian or Venetian form, an arched center flanked by two rectangular openings on each side, which is echoed by the tripartite window behind the chancel to the east.
The interior is an axially organized plan, with column screens all around articulating the entrance with balcony seating above, side aisles, and separating the chancel to the east. Four piers with half columns attached articulate a central rectangle, marking a cross aisle between two side doorways. Together these piers and the column screen give the linear plan an additional centralized reading. Tall, flat coffered ceilings allow space for clerestory windows to light the central space and lower outer windows to light the side aisles.
The extreme height of the steeple, the giant order of columns, the tall interior volumes and window and door openings are proportioned as simple rectangular, semi-circular and circular forms. The geometric simplicity of the giant scaled forms gives the church a somber monumental grandeur. It evokes basic and archetypal experiences of form and faith, made tangible in stone.
Commercial Street near Fournier Street, on the east end of London.
Sources on Christ Church
Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. ISBN 0-442-21668-8. LC 84-3543. NA2750.C55 1984. drawings and diagrams, p44-45. Updated edition available at Amazon.com
Howard Davis. Slide from photographer's collection. PCD .1536. PCD .1536.
Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. London: The Butterworth Group, 1987. ISBN 0-408-01587-X. LC 86-31761. NA200.F63 1987. mentioned, p1055. elevation photo, p1057. The classic text of architectural history. Expanded 1996 edition available at Amazon.com
Yetsuh Frank, University of Oregon. Slide from photographer's collection, October 1993. PCD.2287.1022.1938.027. PCD.2287.1022.1938.025.
Hubert Pragnell. The Styles of English Architecture. London: B.T. Batsford, 1984. ISBN 0-7134-3768-5. NA961.P73 1984. perspective cutaway drawing, f115b, p127.
Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.
Links on Christ Church
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