Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Notre Dame de France’

I always encourage people to wander into churches if they have even a few minutes to spare. Or any place of worship for that matter. I did this recently with quite a modern-looking church that lies between Chinatown and Leicester Square in Leicester Place: Notre Dame de France.

20200210_141109b

It is, of course. a French church, founded in the 1860s at the behest of Cardinal Wiseman to serve the considerable French diaspora living in the immediate area. For most of its existence Notre Dame de France – a Marian church as its name suggests – has been run by the Marist Brothers. It is one of four Catholic churches in the West End.

It suffered severe bomb damage early in WW2 and its story is really about its rebuilding, refurbishing and redecorating later in the war and the years immediately afterwards.

When you enter you immediate realise that the church is a rotunda, that’s to say domed, its form having been inherited from a precious building on the site, Burford’s Panorama. Large scale panoramas had been popular forms of entertainment in the late Georgian period but by the mid 19th Century somewhat out of fashion.

20200210_140932b

The most noteworthy item in Notre Dame is group of chapel murals painted by Jean Cocteau (1889 – 1963) in November of 1959. Largely forgotten today, Cocteau was internationally renowned at the time. A film director, writer, playwright, artist and poet, he was invited to paint three murals depicting the Annunciation, the Crucifiction and the Assumption. For a week he turned up at 10 in the morning, lit a candle and got on with the job, including a self portrait in the work. He additionally painted a panel of wood which was used to obscure an altar mosaic by the great Boris Anrep. This bizarre business was only rediscovered in 2003 whereupon the work was uncovered and remains so till this day.

20200210_140620b

20200210_140655b

20200210_140703b

20200210_140640b

20200210_140419b

The Anrep mosaic.

There are other lovely bits of artwork dotted around the church, notably a large altar tapestry by the Benedictine monk, Dom Robert.

20200210_140944b

Do pop in to Notre Dame if you find yourself in the Leciester Square or Chinatown area.

Website of Notre Dame de France.

Read Full Post »