Last September London gained a new Cathedral on a quiet residential road in Chiswick — The Cathedral of the Nativity Of the Most Holy Mother of God and the Royal Martyrs. Gleaming in the winter sun, the blue dome gives it a very distinctive appearance, and yes, it’s a Russian cathedral.
Not the official Russian church though, as it’s independent of the Patriarch of Moscow, and has been built by the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad (ROCA) who never compromised with the Soviet Union or jumped into bed with Putin as the “official” church has. In 2007, a restoration was agreed upon, and now ROCA is a semi-autonomous part of the Patriarch of Moscow.
The London Cathedral was built in what’s known as Pskov Style, after the city in Russia with a simple white square Cathedral surmounted by the famous “onions” that dominate Orthodox churches.
It’s a square white building, sitting next to an older house which now acts as the “church hall” and home for the two priests, one from Canada and the other from Ukraine.
Planning permission for the Cathedral to be built was granted back in 1997, but it was many years before it was constructed, and only last September was the Cathedral was formally consecrated with a rather august group as there was a meeting of the Synod of Bishops in London the day before, so they all turned up for the service.
It looks today rather finer than just a few years ago, as it used to have a wooden fence around the outside, but a couple of years ago, that was replaced with the more impressive white walls and gate. A monument was also erected at the same time, in memory of the Royal Martyrs killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 — the Royal Martyrs being the Romanov family who used to rule Russia until the revolution.
Even though an ancient requirement that cities can only be cities if they have a Cathedral in them, it could be fun if Chiswick were to become a City thanks to the Cathedral.
I wandered around and saw a sign saying the entrance was on the other side, which entailed walking down a set of steps to the basement level, then along a long corridor. Opening the door, and inside is delightfully dark and atmospheric, but I beat a hasty retreat as there was a service going on at the time.
So I haven’t really seen inside, but the outside is a pleasing adornment to the local area.