By the end of the 18th century the farmlands of the parish had been extensively developed. Portland Place, Harley Street and Wimpole Street had become a residential area for wealthy families.
 Harley Street (from the south) end of 18th Century
The little church was hopelessly inadequate for a hugely increased population. The architect Sir William Chambers (1723-1796) was asked to produce designs for a new grand parish church. His monumental design (1770) for a a building shaped like a Greek Cross with a huge dome was rejected in favour of a design by Thomas Hardwicke, who had recently completed the building of the St Marylebone Mortury Chapel (now St John's Wood Parish Church).
William Chambers, Design presentation drawing for Marylebone Parish Church, London, about 1770. V&A Museum no. 3363. This drawing can be found in Print Room Box 10B.
This drawing shows a section through a domed neo-classical interior. The architect designed two schemes, one with a spire and one with a dome. This image shows the more expensive domed option. This kind of 'section' drawing, where the building appears to have been cut in half, is still used by architects today. Colour is used to indicate which walls have been 'cut through' and to describe the space behind. A range of drawings was produced for this project, from rough sketches to detailed plans. This is a highly finished 'presentation drawing' and would have been shown to clients to convince them of the beauty of the scheme and the skill of the architect. William Chambers was the greatest official architect of his day. Born in Sweden he trained in Paris and Italy, and settled in England. He was appointed Architect to the King and his style was based on English Palladianism. His Treatise on Civil Architecture became an influential work.
Led by the Duke of Portland, who owned much of the neighbourhood, the parishioners erected the present church to Thomas Hardwicke's deign at a cost of £80,000. 
 York_Gate        Interior_1817  

Thomas Hardwicke's

Parish Church, 1817

Exterior from York Gate

Thomas Hardwicke's

Parish Church, 1817

Interior looking South


The new parish church was consecrated in February 1817. Originally a double gallery ran round the entire church. In the south corners were two rooms fitted with fireplaces which served as family pews. A large pulpit and reading desk projected well into the church and the high box pews as well gave it all a somewhat congested appearance.

Interior_of_1883_Church          Parish_boundary_stone
Interior of Church, 1883

Download larger image (pdf)


Parish boundary stone of 1821

Regent's Park

Behind the altar hung an oil painting of the Holy Family, painted by the American-born artist Benjamin West (1738-1820) who at that time had lived in Marylebone for many years and was at one time President of the Royal Academy of Arts; his dedication can be read (with difficulty) at the bottom right of the picture. Above this picture was the organ case and console and the choir loft. In 1859 the painting of the Holy Family was scraped and cut by a madman, who further defaced some of the marble tablets. The painting has been recently (2015) been restored - download restoration report (pdf)

Benjamin West's Altar Paintings for St. Marylebone Church, Gerald L. Carr, The Art Bulletin, Vol. 62, No. 2 (Jun., 1980), pp. 293-303

Published by: College Art Association, DOI: 10.2307/3049999, Stable URL:

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and his family lived nearby in Devonshire Terrace. His son was baptised in this church. The ceremony is described by Dickens in his novel "Dombey and Son". Many of the characters in David Copperfield are based on well-known persons then living in Marylebone. In 1882, with the arrival of an energetic new Rector, the Revd W. Barker, the Church Council decided on an extensive redevelopment of the church, in order, as the Rector said, "to bring it more into harmony with the arrangements and decorations suited to the religious demands of the present day". The necessary funds having been subscribed work was begun in 1884 and a memorial stone, laid by Mrs Gladstone (wife of the Prime Minister) can be seen in the outside wall of the apse.

Edward Armitage RA, 19th Fresco Paintings (now hidden)

The new plans were drawn up by Thomas Harris, architect and churchwarden of the parish. The main features of the alterations were the removal of the end wall, the creation of a chancel for a robed choir and a sanctuary within the new apse. The upper galleries on the sides of the church were removed, thus revealing the full length of the windows and letting in more light. New, beautifully carved mahogany choir stalls with angel ends were installed. The floor was covered with marble mosaic and a fine marble pulpit and two balustrades were constructed, the latter bearing the letters Alpha and Omega. A gilded cross in the ceiling is above the site of the original altar. The new decorations, full of symbolic references and scriptural quotations, with Alleluia as the central theme, were in the neo-classical style combined with the pre-Raphaelite love of detail. The Apse frescoes of Chrsit in Majesty with angel choir and seated saints by John Crompton are still extant but the Nave frescoes (no longer visible) by Edward Armitage, RA were painted over after the Secomd World War when the war damage to the church awa srpaired.

John Crompton, Apse Frescoes




The painting shows a crowd gathered on the New Road on a site which would now be
the eastward lane of Marylebone Road, outside Madame Tussaud’s. St Marylebone (then 12 years old) looms in the background.
Go to top