St John's Smith Square, the church that looks like an overturned table

St John’s Smith Square, a church built in 1728 and believed to be one the finest example of Baroque architecture in England.

The design was by the architect Thomas Archer and was part of Queen Anne’s ambitious idea to build 50 new churches in London, followed by an Act in Parliament in 1711. The fifty churches were never built.

Photo: ©Copyright PAUL FARMER and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The church with its four towers looks like an overturned table. In fact, it is said that Archer asked the queen how she wanted the church and she kicked a table and said: ‘So!’.

Legends aside, the church in St John’s Smith Square actually has an unusual look that not everyone likes. It certainly disliked many Victorians, including the writer Charles Dickens.

In those days it cost £40,000 which was a lot of money. The 10 May 1941 the church was hit directly by a German bomb and practically destroyed in the fire that broke out immediately afterwards.

st john's smith square
Church famous for its excellent acoustics

Photo: ©Copyright Christine Matthews and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

In the 1960s, a group was formed dedicated to rebuilding this church into a concert hall. After many collections of money and work it was inaugurated in 1969. Since then, thanks to its almost perfect acoustics and suitable for different types of music, St John has become one of the main concerts in London.

St John’s Smith Square church is subsidized by no one and is maintained solely by profits from concerts and private donations. To see the busy concert schedule (when there are no pandemics around), you can go here.

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