St. Mary-le-Strand (2)

Following my recent visit to St. Mary-le-Strand, I have been reading the excellent book about it, available in the church, by Peter Maplestone, which makes clear a lot I did not know. Mainly, that it was Thomas Archer, not James Gibbs, who was originally commissioned to design the church in April 1714. The foundation stone was laid on 15 July 1714 and the building was already well under way when Gibbs took over in November 1714 (ie after the accession of George I). Gibbs’s design was preferred over that of Vanbrugh, not, I think, because Gibbs was a Tory and Vanbrugh a Whig – Vanbrugh, after all, had recently been knighted – but because Gibbs had devoted more time and effort to his design and had the support of Christopher Wren. The issue is not so much why Vanbrugh’s design was turned down, but why Archer was ousted.


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