By Robert Dukes
there is a lot of information available about the men who
actually built the church - their names, what they did and
where they had worked before, no one knows who the architect
was although there have been a number of guesses.
and good manners in design were widely distributed in the
Eighteenth Century, even at local and amateur level, but the
very high standard of the interior suggests a major figure.
church has many similarities to those designed by James Gibbs.
The interior, for example, is startingly like the St Martins
in the Fields. Further, the Holy Ghost plaque in the ceiling
is a close copy of that in St Peter's, Vere Street, London,
which church Gibbs had designed for the Earl of Oxford and
had finished shortly before St Thomas's was begun, so much
so, indeed, that it makes one wonder whether the moulds were
we say that it was designed by James Gibbs? It might be, but,
with no documentary proof, we can only say for certain that
it is in his style.
Street is really too narrow to permit the visitor seeing the
church as a whole, but it can be fairly well observed from
the doorway of the old Vicarage from whence the rhythm of
the design and the harmony of stone and brick can be appreciated.
building, of course, has been altered but it is easy to distinguish
between the older and the newer work. Externally, this comprises
the apse and the porches of 1890 (architects: Cotton and Bidlake)
and the variety of 1912. The West window also seems to date
from the 1890s. The clock was given in 1878.
the East End, note should be taken of the blocked entrances.
These were cut in 1836 and closed again in 1890. The original
entrances, now the inner doors of the porches, were at the
the church consists of a nave of four bays with Tuscan columns
on high pedestals surmounted by a compartmented barrel vault,
an apsidal ended chancel and a Western baptistery under the
tower. The columns are of wood and are traditionally believed
to have been turned from trees growing on the site.
in all classical compositions, it is best appreciated if seen
from one viewpoint - in this case, from under the tower.
the exterior, the interior has been altered over the years.
The galleries and the pews date from 1836, the pews replacing
taller box pews - they came nearly to the tops of the pedestals
- parts of which were re-used. Their height, incidentally,
not only gave an opportunity for the congregation to slumber
unobserved through the long sermons but for boys to carve
their initials. There are Eighteenth Century examples on the
Westernmost pedestal on the right.
Lighting was installed at the same time. The brass chandelier,
which hung from a hook in the base of the acanthus leaf boss
in the centre of the ceiling was then sold for £12.
Lady Chapel altar piece was erected in 1963 the architect
being J Homery Folkes and the joiner Robert Pancheri. On the
other side of the church, the pulpit was begun in 1913, when
the base was made by Messrs Simeon Bateman, and finished in
1978, the top being made by Messrs R Bridgeman.
visitor is now at the green marble parclose screen, erected
in 1912 when the marble floor was laid in the chancel. Above
is the Holy Ghost plaque, the finest detail of the church.
This has been attributed to Bagutti.
the fine choir stalls, part of the 1890 alterations, and the
screen on the North side. This was designed by Bidlake and
given by Robert Bloomhall in 1890 in memory of his wife. It
is a very fine essay in the Early Renaissance style. It was
erected to divide the organ console from the chancel, a purpose
it no longer serves.
organ is an outstanding one. It was made by George Pike England,
one of the most celebrated makers of the late 18th Century,
and installed in the West Gallery in 1809 to replace the barrel
organ formerly used to accompany the hymns. During the 1890
alterations, it was brought up to date and was moved into
its present position, the West Gallery being taken down, a
new West window cut and the 1836 glass from the East window
moved to the other end of the church to fill it. In the new
apse, three windows, depicting the Annunciation, the Nativity
and the Ascension were placed. They are dated 1891 and are
the gift of Charles Collis.
mosaic reredos was given in memory of Mary Ann Fiddian in