The fine-looking early c19 Anglican church of St Clement King Square is little known, though quite unjustly so. Admittedly it is barely visible to most passers by, being tucked away along a cobbled cul-de-sac beside a small, quiet urban park (King Square) and overwhelmed by later c20 housing developments.
The church building – originally dedicated to St Barnabas – was designed by Thomas Hardwick (1752–1829) and competed in 1826 at a cost of around £17,000. Hardwick’s design was part of a middle-class garden-square housing development built on land owned by St Bartholomew’s Hospital, and was intended as a chapel-of-ease to St Luke’s Old Street.
This article’s rather oblique title derives from the fact that tn the late 1930’s the church was designated for closure in favour of other nearby church buildings, specifically:
- St Clement, Lever Street (1863–5; arch. George Gilbert Scott, 1811–78)
- St Matthew, City Road (1847–8; arch. George Gilbert Scott. Additions 1866: arch. G. E. Street, 1824–81)
- St Paul, Pear Tree [Peartree] Street (1868; arch, Ewan Christian, (1814–95).
However, as a result of aerial bombing during the Second World War those churches were damaged beyond repair and were closed. St Barnabas, itself bombed – but not irreparably – was retained and renovated by the Norman Haines Design Partnership to create a fine neo-classical interior. It was re-dedicated on 12 June 1954 as the church for a newly created parish of St Clement with St Barnabas and St Matthew Finsbury. The people here are very warm and welcoming, and the building is also well used for concerts of music, not least by musicians from the nearby City University.
The pipe organ
The first organ in this building was by the firm of William Hill and Sons, but was lost when the church suffered war damage. The rather nice two-manual organ we find today is derived from the mechanical-action organ by Henry Willis that was originally installed (1876) in St Thomas, Agar Town (1860-61; arch: S. S. Teulon, 1812–73) . That church was closed and demolished in the early 1950s at which point the Willis instrument there was salvaged by the firm of Mander and Sons for re-use, some of it here. The case, console and electro-action are new.
- ‘Church of St Clement with St Barnabas and St Matthew, King Square EC1 – Islington‘. Historic England. Web resource, accessed 1 December 2019.’
- ‘Middlesex Finsbury, St. Clement w St. Barnabas & St. Matthew, King Square [N17552]‘, National Pipe Organ Register. Online resource, accessed 1 December 2019
- Sit George Gilbert Scott (1811–78). Online resource, accessed 1 December 2019
- St Clement’s Finsbury. Parish website. Online resource, accessed 1 December 2019
- ‘St Clement’s Church, King Square‘. Wikipedia. Onoline resource accessed 1 December 2019
- ‘St Clement with St Barnabas King Square‘. The Church of England: A Church Near You. Online resource accessed 1 December 2019
- ‘St Matthew City Road” in T. E. Bumpus, London Churches Ancient and Modern. 2nd series/ (London: Werner Lauries, 1908). 164-5.
- St Paul Pear Treet Street in ‘Great Sutton Street Area‘. Survey of London: Volume 46, South and East Clerkenwell. (2008) 280-93. British History Online, online resource accessed 1 December 2019
- ‘St Thomas, Elm Road, Agar Town‘. The National Pipe Organ Register. Online resource, accessed 1 Decemner 2019.
- ‘Thomas Hardwick‘. Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 1 December 2019