The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 12 Knightsbridge and Kensington

Brompton Road and The Oratory

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BROMPTON ROAD, a long and bustling thoroughfare, at the beginning of which is the Knightsbridge Station of the Piccadilly Tube, runs to the south west, past Tattersall's (on the right), founded in 1766, noted for its horse-sales, and Harrod's Stores to (+ mile) the Brompton Oratory, close to which are the Brompton Road Station of the Piccadilly Tube, on one side, and the Victoria and Albert Museum (Walk 44; in Cromwell Road), on the other. The Brompton Oratory, or the Church of the Oratory, is served by secular priests of the institute of the Oratory, founded by St. Philip Neri at Rome in the 16th century. The institute, introduced into England by Cardinal Newman in 1847, was first established in London in 1849, and a temporary church was built on this site in 1854, the first superior of which was F. W. Faber (1814-63), the hymn-writer. The present church, a large and elaborate edifice in the Italian Renaissance style, designed by H. Gribble, was opened in 1884, the facade and dome being completed in 1896-97. The interior, which is remarkable for the width of its nave (51 feet), is somewhat heavily decorated with marble and statuary; many features of the decoration and some of the altarpieces are copied from Italian works. The church is closed from 12.30 to 2.30 p.m., but at other times it is open free to visitors except on Saturday and during the services, which are almost continuous from 6.30 to 10 a.m. High mass is celebrated on Sunday at 10.45 a.m., the last mass with sermon at midday; on Tuesday a figure of St. Philip, containing a relic of the saint, is exposed under the altar in the north transept; on Friday evenings the Stations are performed in procession. The nave is covered by concrete vaulting springing from an entablature supported by Corinthian marble pilasters, between which are placed marble statues of the Apostles, by Mazzotti (late 17th century), brought from the cathedral of Siena. In the Chapel of St. Philip Neri (4th on the left) the picture over the altar is a copy of Guido Reni, and those on either Side are originals by Guercino. The Chapel of St. Wilfrid (to the right of the elaborately adorned sanctuary) has an altar (1710) originally in the Groote Kerke of Maastricht; while the Shrine of St. Cecilia, on the west side of this chapel, contains a reproduction of Stefano Maderno's figure of the martyred saint (1599) in the church of St. Cecilia at Rome, and a copy of Raphael's painting of St. Cecilia in the gallery at Bologna. The late 17th century Lady Chapel (opposite the Chapel of St. Philip), with its sumptuous inlaid marbles, came from a church in Brescia. Adjoining the church is the Oratory House, in front of which is a statue of Cardinal Newman (1801-90), by Chavalliaud (1896). In the Fulham Road, diverging to the south west from the Brompton Road opposite the Oratory, Mazzini lived for a time at No. 18 (then 2 Onslow Terrace). At Nos. 1-7 Cromwell Gardens, opposite the Victoria and Albert Museum, is the Institut Francais du Royaume Uni, a centre of French culture in London. CROMWELL ROAD, which continues the line of Brompton Road due west, past the Natural History Museum (Walk 41), is a street of substantial residences and private hotels, deriving its name from a vanished house of Henry Cromwell, son of the Protector. Cromwell Place leads from the east end of Cromwell Road to the South Kensington Station of the District Railway and the Piccadilly Tube, whence Sydney Place leads to Onslow Square, Millais lived in 1862-79 at No. 7 Cromwell Place, Thackeray at No 36 Onslow Square in 1854-62, and James Anthony Froude (1818-94) at No. 5 Onslow Gardens. Farther west are two houses marked by tablets: No. 22 Hereford Square, in which George Borrow lived from 1860 to 1872, and No. 1 Moreton Gardens (in Gilston Road, Old Brompton Road), the home of Jenny Lind in 1874-87.