St Luke Old Street - The Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks

St Luke Old Street

• St Luke's is a historic Anglican church building in the London Borough of Islington. It is now a music centre operated by the London Symphony Orchestra. It is the home of the LSO's community and music education programme LSO Discovery.

• The main body of the church seats up to 372 and is used by the LSO for rehearsals, and by a wide variety of musicians for performances and recording. Additional rooms in the crypt provide practice facilities for professional musicians, students and community groups.

• The church is sited on Old Street, north of the City, and was built to relieve the church of St Giles Cripplegate, under the Commission for Building Fifty New Churches, an attempt to meet the religious needs of London's burgeoning 18th century population. It was completed and the corresponding parish of St Luke's created in 1733. (Originally called St Luke’s Middlesex)

• The church was designed by John James, though the obelisk spire, a most unusual feature for an Anglican church, west tower and flanking staircase wings were by Nicholas Hawksmoor.

• Buried in the small churchyard is the architect George Dance the Elder

• The parish was reunited with St Giles in 1959 and St. Luke's font and organ case moved there. The church was closed by the Church of England Diocese of London in 1964 after subsidence made it unsafe and it lay empty. The roof was removed two years later for safety reasons and the shell became a dramatic ruin for 40 years, overgrown with trees; despite being a Grade I listed building.

• After several controversial proposals to redevelop offices inside the retained walls, it was converted by the St Luke Centre Management Company Ltd for the London Symphony Orchestra as a concert hall, rehearsal, recording space and educational resource. The conversion was designed by Axel Burrough at London architects Levitt Bernstein, who installed a heavy concrete slab roof which keeps out traffic noise from the nearby road. Though this is similar in profile to the former eighteenth century roof its great weight is supported on tall steel columns inside the hall described by the designer as 'tree-like'. The interior acoustic can be varied for different events, from full orchestra to soloists, by the use of absorbent surfaces that unroll like blinds across the ceiling and down the walls whilst the seating and staging is also highly flexible.

• A total of 1053 burials were recorded and removed during the restoration of the crypt.


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