St Mary-le-Strand London, Historic Church Building Photo, English 18th C Architecture Image, Architect

St Mary-le-Strand Church, London

Key Religious Building by James Gibbs in London, England, UK 18th Century Architecture

post updated 20 September 2023

Flower power at St Mary le Strand, as fundraising campaign launched to restore iconic church

Location: The Strand, central London

Dates built: 1714-17

Design: James Gibbs Architect

St Mary-le-Strand London Church building UK

Photos by Mickey Lee Photography and The Northbank BID.

St Mary-le-Strand Church Building

St Mary le Strand is inviting people to sponsor flowers on its famous ceiling as part of a fundraising drive to raise money for restoration and conservation work.

The church launched the Jewel in the Strand campaign at its event on Tuesday 19th September. The spectacular floral plaster ceiling will be the centrepiece of the church’s transformation, which will see the repurposing of the crypt into a multi-purpose events space, as well as delivering much-needed repair and redecoration work to the interior and exterior. Improvements will also enhance accessibility for people regardless of whether they have a visual impairment, mobility issue or other access requirements. Donors can give anything upwards of £50 to sponsor a flower, including roses, acorns and sunflowers.

(From left to right) Catherine Jenkins (The Northbank BID and Jewel in the Strand Project Board member), Andy Hicks (Shaftesbury Capital and Jewel in the Strand Project Board member), Peter Babington (Priest in Charge, St Mary le Strand), Peter Maplestone (Churchwarden and Chairman of Project Board), Anne Biggs (Project Director, Jewel in the Strand Project):
St Mary-le-Strand Church London by James Gibbs

St Mary’s is seeking to raise £4.5 million to fund renovations, after receiving £3.9 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Jewel in the Strand project is central to the wider Strand Aldwych Project. St Mary le Strand has long been a sanctuary – a place of welcome, worship and well-being – in the heart of the bustling City of Westminster. This area is in the middle of a long-term transformation, with the East Strand having recently been pedestrianised to create a popular new landscaped public space and ‘global cultural thinking quarter’ for the City of Westminster.

Formerly known by taxi drivers as ‘St Mary’s in the Way,’ the church, which had previously been surrounded by heavy traffic, now sits at the centre of a pedestrianised zone at London’s cultural heart. This is a unique opportunity in the church’s story, an opportunity to build on this new accessibility and to become a space that once again hosts important moments and connections and maintains its place in history.

St Mary le Strand will work with key partners, including the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Northbank Business Improvement District (BID), King’s College London, the London School of Economics, Somerset House, the Courtauld, and other local stakeholders to deliver this ground-breaking project.

Works will begin in September 2025, with the formal opening planned to take place in late 2026.

St Mary le Strand building interior:
St Mary-le-Strand Church London interior

The Revd Canon Dr Peter Babington, Priest in Charge at St Mary le Strand, said:

“This project is not just about bricks and mortar, but about the people and communities who worship in and visit, work and study around our beautiful church. St Mary’s has been able to continue to function to date through the dedication of parishioners and church wardens, but we now need to invest significantly to bring this Grade I listed building into the 21st Century and make it fit for the future.

“With the help of investment from our partners, local businesses and community supporters, we are finding ways to not only open up the building physically and make it more accessible for all, but to make it reach a wider audience than ever before. We hope that supporters will join us for the next stage in the Project’s journey, turning what we have learned and our detailed plans into a reality.”

The Bishop of London, The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Dame Sarah Mullally, commented:

“St Mary le Strand is one of London’s most iconic and beautiful churches, and I am thrilled that, following pedestrianisation, work is being done to transform the church and its surroundings. London’s churches are truly for everyone, and I pray this work will enable St Mary’s to continue to bring people together and to make the love of Christ known for centuries to come.”

Ruth Duston OBE, OC, Chief Executive for The Northbank Business Improvement District, said:

“We are very proud of the impact that pedestrianisation and regeneration of Strand Aldwych has had on the local environment. St Mary le Strand is truly the centrepiece of the area, and this project is vital to ensure that the community can enjoy it for generations to come.”

Photos: Mickey Lee Photography and The Northbank BID.

St Mary le Strand interior:
St Mary-le-Strand Church London building interior

Proposed works will:

• Deliver urgent repair and conservation works to the interior and exterior of the church, restore the apsidal Sanctuary, and redecorate the interior.
• Introduce flexible Nave furnishings – turning this into a space that can be enjoyed in a variety of settings, for a variety of individuals and communities, responding to their needs and co-producing within the church spaces in genuine partnership with the people the church serves.
• Sustainably renew heating, lighting, and AV systems, as well as making the space more accessible for people regardless of whether they have a visual impairment, mobility issue or other access requirements.
• Enhance the Churchyard – creating a space for quiet reflection and encouraging passers-by to engage with nature, supporting health and wellbeing.
• Create The Strand Crypt, establishing a space which will open up the Church to new audiences, building on its current track record of delivering concerts, art exhibitions and a variety of one-off cultural and community events.

To find out more about how you can take part, please get in touch with the Project’s Development Manager, [email protected]

St Mary le Strand

St Mary le Strand was built in 1714-21 to the designs of the renowned Scottish Architect, James Gibbs – his first building on his return from studying in Rome. It is often said to be one of the UK’s loveliest Baroque churches, with its plastered, curved and coffered ceiling, unparalleled in Britain.

The original church of St Mary le Strand was demolished in 1549 to make way for Somerset House. The present church was constructed following an Act of Parliament which called for 50 new churches to meet the demands of an expanding eighteenth-century London.

As a local church in the City of Westminster, St Mary le Strand is committed to delivering Christian, Public and Cultural benefit, celebrating and affirming every person without discrimination, a value of inclusivity which sits at the heart of the Jewel in the Strand Project.

For more information visit

For more information please contact the Diocese of London Media Team on 02076189106 or [email protected]

Comments on this Mary-le-Strand Church London building news article are welcome.

Previously on e-architect:

3 Aug 2009

Location: The Strand, London, England, UK
Dates built: 1714-17
Design: James Gibbs, Architect

St Mary-le-Strand Church gate
photograph © Nick Weall

St Mary-le-Strand Church, The Strand, London

St Mary-le-Strand Church architect : James Gibbs

The new Website: St Mary le Strand church building was the first of the fifty new churches built in London under the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, at a cost of some £16,000. Construction began in February 1714 under the architect James Gibbs, being his first major project following his return from Italy.

St Mary-le-Strand Church by architect James Gibbs
photograph © Nick Weall

The steeple was completed in September 1717, but the church was not consecrated for use until January 1723. Bonnie Prince Charlie is alleged to have renounced his Roman Catholic faith in the church to become an Anglican during a secret visit to London in 1750. John Dickens and Elizabeth Barrow, the parents of Charles Dickens, were married here in 1809.

Key religious building in the area – Christ Church, Spitalfields:
Christ Church Spitalfields, Hawksmoor London
photo © Nick Weall

James Gibbs Architect

Address: Strand, City of London WC2R 1ES

Contact: 020 7836 3126

Location: St Mary-le-Strand, Strand, London, WC2R 1ES, south east England, UK

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