St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields is an English Anglican Church at Duncannon Street and Charing Cross Road near the corner of Trafalgar Square. Originally, the church was indeed surrounded by fields, thus the name. In 1721, the former building was demolished and the present building erected, completed in 1726. The architect was James Gibbs, designing a Neoclassical building, with eight columns of the Corinthian Order. The pedimented entablature showcases the Royal Arms of George I.
In June 1726, the new bells were brought to the church with plans for installation the first of August (The Ipswich Journal, Jun 11, 1726, p. 3.). In July,
The Vicar from 1914-1927, Dick Sheppard, began to call it the “Church of the Ever Open Door.” During World War I, the doors of the church were opened to provide refuge for soldiers traveling to France. He also began ministry to homeless, and in 1948, the church founded a Social Service Unit to continue to address homelessness. In addition, St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields was involved with other social issues, including the Anti-Apartheid Movement.
According to the Survey of London, Volume 20, 1940, the steeple is “192 feet in height above the church floor, is square at the lower stages and changes at the clock face to octagonal, finishing with a steeple surmounted by a ball and weather-vane” (Chapter 3: The Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, The Present Church). The link to the chapter includes detailed descriptions and sketches of various interior facets.
While I love clocks on buildings including church buildings, I love a church that engages in social service and social action even more. If ever I am able to return to London, I will be sure to take time to visit St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields.