St Mary Moorfields

51°31′7.64″N 0°5′8.57″W / 51.5187889°N 0.0857139°W / 51.5187889; -0.0857139

St Mary Moorfields is a Roman Catholic church in Eldon Street near Moorgate, on a site previously known as Moorfields. It is the only Catholic church in the City of London.[1] Prior to a 1994 boundary change, the church was in the Borough of Hackney, such that there were no Catholic churches in the City.[2]

St. Mary Moorfields
St Mary Moorfields.JPG
Photo of St. Mary Moorfields
LocationEldon Street, City of London
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationRoman Catholic

The present building, located at 4–5 Eldon Street, was opened in 1903, after the previous building had been demolished in 1899.[3] However, the foundation had a long history prior to this. A chapel was opened in 1686, but was suspended in 1689, in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1688.

The church serves as a hub for evangelism, especially directed at young people who work in the surrounding financial district. The church hosts monthly Opus Dei meetings,[4] and is also affiliated with the St Francis of Assisi Ramblers.


The original chapel in 1836: interior facing east
The original chapel in the 1830s: exterior, west facade

The first post-Reformation public Catholic chapel in the City was the Lime Street Chapel set up in 1686, in the reign of James II. It was suppressed, and later re-established in Grub Street (now Milton Street), near Moorfields. The Gordon Riots of 1780 resulted in the destruction of a chapel in White Street.

Following the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1791, the White Street chapel was rebuilt. In 1817, Reverend Joseph Hunt arranged the building of a church on the east side of Finsbury Circus. The church, which opened in 1820, was designed by John Newman in the neo-classical style and given the name St Mary Moorfields, opened in 1820. In 1850 the Catholic hierarchy was re-established in the United Kingdom, and the church was chosen as London's Pro-cathedral by Cardinal Wiseman. In 1869, the title of Pro-cathedral was passed to Our Lady of Victories, Kensington.


The earliest known pipe organ associated with the parish dates from the second half of the eighteenth-century, and so may have been obtained for the post-Gordon-Riots chapel in White Street. This instrument is currently located in the Anglican church of St Mary Lode in Gloucester.[5][6] It had previously been located in the Anglican church of 'St Nicholas, Gloucester; moved there in 1831 by the organ-building firm of Gray and Davison.[7]

The next pipe organ associated with the parish – for which there is detail – was installed around 1830 by the organ-building firm of Bevington,[8] and was a much more substantial instrument, better befitting the 1820s building. In 1842 it was described as follows:

St Mary's Catholic Chapel Moorfields. This organ erected by Bevington and Son at an expense of £1000 has three rows of keys, an octave and a half of pedal pipes, and nine composition pedals. Service at eleven and six o'clock. Organist Mr Vincent Novello.[9]

The organ in St Mary Moorfields, drawn by J.B.Taylor (1860–1944) and published in the Musical Standard on 2 July 1892

According to an article in the Musical Standard (2 July 1892) the first organ in the new church was by Bishop and Starr (1820), and so the c.1830 Bevington organ referred to above may well have been a replacement of that organ, or an enlargement of it. The article also states that the organ-building firm of William Hill & Sons rebuilt the organ at some time between 1871 and 1873.[10]

From the same Musical Standard article we also learn the names of the early organists of the parish:

  • Vincent Novello, 1820–1840s
  • Anthony Lejeune Senior, 1840s–[until his death]
  • Anthony Lejeune Junior, [at father's death]-1871
  • Mr Arscott, of Jersey, 1871–1873
  • Mr J. H. Leipold, "Professor at the Guildhall School of Music [...] a pupil of Josef Rheinberger and Dr Hans von Bulow.", 1873–

When the Finsbury Square building was closed and demolished this instrument was dismantled and in 1905 rebuilt by the organ building firm of Bishop and Son in the Ilford (Essex) Presbyterian Church.[11]

The pipe organ in the current building is situated on a gallery at the liturgical-west end and made by the organ building firm of Corps,[12] which flourished variously in Reading (Surrey), Norwich (Norfolk) and Camden Town (London) until about 1870.[13] This date suggests that the organ was purchased second-hand, but its original location and the details of who installed the organ here are so far unknown.

See alsoEdit


  • Evinson, Denis (1998). "Chapter I: City of London". Catholic Churches of London. A&C Black. pp. 29–31. ISBN 978-1-85075-819-8.


  1. ^ Evinson, p.29
  2. ^ Evinson, p.29
  3. ^ Evinson, p.29
  4. ^ Silver, Vernon; Smith, Michael (26 April 2006). "Opus Dei, Vilified in 'Da Vinci Code,' Runs Global MBA Schools". Archived from the original on 22 June 2006.
  5. ^, 'A recital by Ian Ball on the historic Georgian organ of St Mary de Lode Church' (22 November 2012), accessed 16 May 2016.
  6. ^ National Pipe Organ Register, 'St Mary at Lode Gloucester [N07690]'
  7. ^ National Pipe Organ Register, 'St Nicholas, Gloucester [N07443]', accessed 16 May 2016
  8. ^ The Making of the Victorian Organ by Nicholas Thislethwaite (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 114, accessed 16 May 2016.
  9. ^ Hamiltons Catechism of the Organ by Joseph Warren (London, Cocks and Co, 1842; second edition), p. 74, accessed 16 May 2016.
    GREAT ORGAN 1 Open Diapason No 1,
    2 Ditto ditto No 2, 3 Stopped ditto No 1, 4 Ditto No 2, 5 Principal No 1, 6 Ditto ditto No 2, 7 Twelfth, 8 Fifteenth, 9 Sesquialtera 4 ranks, 10 Mixture 3 ranks, 11 Trumpet, 12 Ditto, 13 Clarion;
    CHOIR ORGAN 1/ Open Diapason, 2/ Stopped ditto, 3/ Dulciana, 4/ Principal, 5/ Fifteenth, 6/ Mixture 3 ranks, 7/ Flute, 8/ Cromorne;
    SWELL ORGAN 1/ Double Diapaso, 2/ Open ditto, 3/ Stopped ditto, 4/ Principal, 5/ Cornet 3 ranks, 6/ Trumpet, 7/ Clarion, 8/ Hautboy, 9/ Cromorne.
    [There is no detail given of the Pedal Organ]
  10. ^ 'The Organ in the Church of St Mary Moorfields, London'. (The Organs of Great Britain – No. 42). Musical Standard. Vol. 43. No. 1457 (Jul 2, 1892): 554–555
    GREAT ORGAN 1/ Double Open Diapason 16', 2/ Open Diapason 8', 3/ Violin Diapason 8', 4/ Gamba 8', 5/ Stopped Diapason 8', 6/ Principal 4', 7/ Harmonic Flute 4', 8/ Twelfth 22/3, 9/ Fifteenth 2', 10/ Mixture 3 ranks, 11/ Trumpet 8', 12/ Clarion 4';
    CHOIR ORGAN 1/ Open Diapason 8', 2/ Stopped Diapason 8', 3/ Dulciana 8', 4/ Principal 4', 5/ Wald Flute 4', 6/ Piccolo 2', 7/ Clarionet 8';
    SWELL ORGAN 1/ Bourdon 16', 2/ Open Diapason 8', 3/ Stopped Diapason 8', 4/ Principal 4', 5/ Mixture 3 ranks, 6/ Cornopean 4' [sic], 7/ Oboe 8', 8/ Clarion 8' [sic],
    PEDAL ORGAN 1/ Open Diapason 16', 2/ Open Diapason 16' [sic], 3/ Principal 8'.
    "In all 31 sounding stops and 5 couplers and 6 automatic Pedals"
  11. ^ The National Pipe Organ Register, 'Presbyterian Church, 2–4 Mildmay Road, was Oakfield Road [N18345]', accessed 16 May 2016. This building – no longer a church – is now the London Borough of Redbridge's Mildmay Learning Centre (accessed 16 May 2016). The status of the pipe organ is currently unknown, as at 16 May 2016.
  12. ^ The National Pipe Organ Register,'St. Mary Moorfields, 4–5 Eldon Street, Broadgate [N17650]', accessed 16 May 2016.
  13. ^ The National Pipe Organ Register, 'CORPS, James', accessed 16 May 2016

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