Sitting next to the Holborn Viaduct is a grand Victorian church, with a totally modern interior.
City Temple has its roots in the Reformation of the 16th century. The church possibly started around 1640 as a nonconformist, congregational church, but some evidence suggests that the church could have begun as early as the 1560s. Some Christians worshipping together became known as Non-Conformists, because they refused to conform with the Book of Common Prayer.
The church moved around a bit, but its current site was opened in 1874 as a classic Victorian era church, with a double row of double-height collonaded porticos and a tall clock tower. Inside was a classic of the time, being a ground floor filled with pews, and a gallery above running along the side walls.
However, while the frontage is the same as when it was built, the interior is totally different, thanks to the intervention of a WW2 bomb that gutted the entire back of the building.
After the war, the pastor, Leslie Weatherhead raised the funds to rebuild the church, largely from John D. Rockefeller, Jr, and the rebuilt City Temple was opened by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in 1958.
Now that you know it was rebuilt, you won’t be overly surprised to see that the interior is very much of its time, and very modernist in style. Long rows of simple modern wooden pews sit on lino flooring, that’s rather showing the wear and tear of 70 years of use.
An upper gallery is more like a modern theatre than the old church, and has the odd effect of rising upwards as seen from below. The altar at the far end is simple, but still detailed with vertical banding surrounded by vertical tiles. Dotted around you can still see the original plasterwork which was restored during the rebuilding.
Now showing its age having been in use since it was rebuilt, there are now plans to redevelop the post-war building, and that should be complete in 2024-25. So if you want to see the 1950s church interior as it is, pay a visit soonish.