A stroll around Soho and Leicester Square

Sunday, August 17th 2014

This evening we went for a little ramble around Soho and Leicester Square. We had no particular purpose in mind and wandered hither and thither as fancy took us. Below are some of the photos that I took en route of things that caught my attention.

Street scene
Street scene
Looking down Tower Court

There is no narrative to this post so I will just show you the photos, commenting where I have something to say about them.

St Martin's Theatre
St Martin’s Theatre
Currently showing The Mousetrap

St Martin’s Theatre is the present venue for the show The Mousetrap, the longest ever run (62 years, I think).

Notre Dame de France
Notre Dame de France
London’s French Catholic church

Charlie Chaplin's Tramp Charlie Chaplin's Tramp
Charlie Chaplin’s Tramp
John Doubleday (1981)

This statue, raised as a tribute to the great comic actor, Charlie Chaplin, was originally placed in Leicester Square. It was removed in 2010 for renovation and has now been placed in a less prominent location in a side street.

No 5 Lisle Street
No 5 Lisle Street
Thomas Verity (1897)

This extraordinary building today serves a relatively mundane purpose as the locale of a pub, perhaps with apartments on the upper floors. This hides a more illustrious past when it served as the premises for the St John’s Hospital for Diseases of the Skin, which lived here from 1936 until the 1960s.

Gerrard Street
Gerrard Street
The Gate to China Town

A large part of the Soho district consists of China Town, where the Chinese community lives, works and plays, and invites to world to partake of what it has to offer. Most of the people gathered in front of the gate seemed to photographing the gate and one another. I can’t complain, I suppose, as I was taking photos too!

Chinese Lion
Wardour Street Chinese Lion
Hsiao-Chi Tsai and Kimiya Yoshikawa

This colourful lion, a joint project by a Chinese artist, Hsiao-Chi Tsai, and a Japanese artist, Kimiya Yoshikawa, is said by its colours to represent the diversity of East Asians living and working in the UK.

House of St Barnabas
House of St Barnabas
Helping the homeless

The House of St Barnabas was founded in 1846 and moved to this building in 1862. The house itself was built as a residential property in the late 1600s but went through several non-residential uses before being occupied by the charity. It is now a Grade I listed building. More information on its history here.

Tower Lamp
Tower and lamp
St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Soho Square

Soho is an area of diverse communities, culturally and linguistically. St Patrick’s Church reflects this: when we took a look inside, we found a sermon being given in Spanish.

L'Église Protestante Française de Londres
L’Église Protestante Française de Londres
(The French Protestant Church of London)

The French Protestant Church was founded by the Huguenot immigrants who sought refuge from religious persecution in Catholic France and found it here, in the England of Edward VI. The King’s charter provided a home and religious freedom for the Huguenots while enormously benefitting, commercially and culturally, their adopted country.

L'Église Protestante Française de Londres
L’Église Protestante Française de Londres

As is usual with French institutions, the church is closed in August. We were lucky, however, to find it open because some sort of social event was being held there. The participants kindly allowed us to come in and photograph the church.

Font
Font

The present church, relatively plain, but elegantly styled, was built in 1891-3.

School Bell
School Bell
In memory of Edgar S. Burdett

The Church once had a companion school, L’École Protestante Française de Londres, but I think this no longer exists. (At least, I have not found any modern references to it.) The school bell has been placed in the church as a memorial to Edgar S. Burdett, who was director of the school from 1910 to 1944.

Tympanum
Tympanum
John Prangnell (1950)

Over the church door is a beautifully carved tympanum that narrates in graphic form, the flight from France of the Huguenots and their being received by Edward VI whose charter gave them the right to become resident in England. It was erected in 1950 in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the church’s foundation.

Centre Point
Centre Point
Richard Seifert (1963-6)

Waiting for the bus home (getting out your camera is a sure way of making the bus come!), I took this picture of Centre Point, basking in evening sunlight. It has always been controversial, politically, architecturally and socially. Richard Seifert, the designer, has not enjoyed the best of reputations as an architect, either. Many hate the building and would love to see it demolished. I understand their concerns and share them to some extent but cannot help feeling that, illumined thus in sunshine, it acquires a certain grandeur. (OK, throw your brickbats now🙂 )

Copyright © 2014 SilverTiger, https://tigergrowl.wordpress.com, All rights reserved.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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2 Responses to A stroll around Soho and Leicester Square

  1. WOL says:

    The interior of the French Protestant Church is surprisingly spare and bare for a church, still the design is clean and elegant. No 5 Lisle Street looks like it ought to be in the low countries with that stair-stepped upper facade — I’m sure there’s an architectural term for it but it doesn’t come to mind.

    • SilverTiger says:

      The French church interior is of unusual design. I would like to take another look when it is not being used.

      5 Lisle Street too is unusual and unlike any other buildings in the street. The stepped feature is a sort of Dutch gable.

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