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Holy Trinity Church

Henry Wood Hall was originally Holy Trinity Church, built in Trinity Church Square in 1824. This is a brief history and architectural appreciation.


Chronology

1820 Authorisation of church erection on the Trinity Estate.
Competition won by Francis Bedford.
1822 Plans for layout of square commenced.
1823 Foundation stone laid by Archbishop of Canterbury on 2nd June.
1824 Church consecrated by Archbishop of Canterbury on 16th December.
1961 Church disused.
1968 Pastoral Measures Act. First church to be declared redundant.

Building the church

The Act of 1820 authorised the erection of a church on the Trinity Estate and trustees were appointed. The site for the church was previously a tenter ground which was an open area where cloth merchants stretched their samples on ‘tenterhooks’ in order to dry them. The land was given by the Trinity Brethren and the trustees opened a public competition for the design. The commission was given to Francis Octavius Bedford, but not before vituperative letters had been written about the attempts of the trustees to favour a relation of one of their number, Mr Robins.

William Chadwick obtained the contract for the mason’s work and Elizabeth Broomfield for the bricklayer’s work. The church was built for a total cost of £16,295 with the aid of parliamentary grant. The Archbishop of Canterbury laid the foundation stone on 2nd June 1823 and consecrated the church on 16th December 1824.
Bedford had already designed and built several churches in London. Holy Trinity Church closely resembled his ‘Waterloo’ Church at St. Luke’s Norwood, with its Corinthian portico, sur­mounted by a tower and octagonal lantern above. The exterior was faced with Bath stone and the roofs covered in copper. The interior of the church was austere, with a roof of unbroken span. The bareness of the walls was relieved by a frieze of honeysuckle ornament and by shallow pilasters, with honeysuckle ornament to the heads, ranging from floor to ceiling. The pilasters supported corbels on which rested the panelled beams dividing the plaster ceiling into fifteen coffered bays, each with a ceiling rosette in the centre.

The interior

There were galleries to the North, South and West sides borne on Greek Doric columns. Two staircases in the portico gave access to the gallery, muniment room and to two small gallery recesses above, with open balustrades and which were intended for charity children. The only crypt entrance was provided by an external staircase on the East side. Lighting was originally pro­vided by oil and later by gas lights. Two boilers in the crypt provided heating via large grilles in the nave floor. The organ and casework was installed by Hugh Russell and Sons in 1824. In 1898 the chancel was altered and the galleries cut back under the supervision of Henry Jarvis and Son. Underpinning of the altar was carried out at this time, with a large area of steps and masonry also being added. Wooden reredos and a decorated window surround were added to the East side in 1930 by Martin Travers.

The garden and railings

The garden, which extended across the whole of the North-east front of the church, was laid out by William Chadwick. The original stone gate piers and the old stone kerbs still remain. The original fine cast iron railings were removed during World War II. Replica railings, made to the old design, were installed in the 1970s.

War damage and fire

The church was slightly damaged in World War II and after 1944 the main aisle was no longer used. Weddings and funerals took place in the side chapel and the crypt until the church was closed as unsafe in 1961.

In 1973, when plans to convert it into an orchestral rehearsal hall were well under way, the building burnt overnight in a spectacular fire, which destroyed most of the interior. It was recon­structed as Henry Wood Hall.

'At Trinity Church I met my doom'

The church is reputed to be the subject of the music hall song ‘At Trinity Church I met my doom’, though other churches may have a stronger claim.

Sources include The Survey of London 1955, Arup Associates and Henry Wood Hall.