The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, Fulton, Exterior

I was digging around in the vault and found some old photos of the time we visited Fulton, Missouri, and saw the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury, which is not an everyday occurrence. On the campus of Westminster College, the church was disassembled after being seriously damaged during the London Blitz in World War II and reconstructed here.

Designed by the great English Baroque architect Sir Christopher Wren to replace another church in 1677 following another calamity, the Great Fire of 1666, it gives us an opportunity to see how Early Modern architecture influences the built environment in America, if not to the same extent as other styles. Here is St. Louis, the former Holy Name of Jesus in College Hill, which I wrote about in a St. Louis Magazine article, and based off the church of Il Gesù in Rome, is one example of the influence of the Italian Baroque, for instance.

Perhaps what is most interesting about Wren’s design of the church is the use of a “double front.” While above is certainly the back of the church, the composition lends one to think of the appearance of a Baroque church in Rome, with the temple pediment and volutes flanking a central window with two ogees–the curly-cue designs on either side of the large rounded arch.

On the side elevation, large windows without stained glass allow ample light to flood the interior. Again, classical windows, abandoning the Gothic which is so ubiquitous in England, prevails.

Around to the proper “front,” we see a central bell tower, which is perhaps a nod to the Gothic style in England, as such structures are not common at all in Italy.

But the copper sheathed belfry at the top of the tower, defined separately from the limestone shaft, is distinctly Italian, as seen in campanili.

The two twin doors with their half lunette lintels are classic Sixteenth Century Italian elements that flourished well into the Baroque, first initiated in the designs of Michelangelo in places such as the New Sacristy and Library of San Lorenzo in Florence.

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