Building » Mayfair – The Holy Family (Ukrainian Cathedral)

Mayfair – The Holy Family (Ukrainian Cathedral)

Duke Street, Mayfair, London W1

A large red brick and terracotta church in Romanesque style, built by Alfred Waterhouse for the King’s Weigh House Congregationalists. Despite minor changes in 1903 and 1965 (when the building was bought by the Ukrainian Catholics), the church is largely unaltered. Attached are the former church school and hall, and the minister’s house, both contemporary with the church and also by Waterhouse. All three buildings make a bold and positive contribution to the conservation area, which is otherwise dominated by commercial buildings.

In the early 1880s, a small Congregational community based at Robert Street (now Weighhouse Street) was looking for a site to build a new chapel. The Duke of Westminster provided a site for a peppercorn rent (on part of the present site). In 1883, a limited competition was won by John Sulman with a Gothic design. Work was to start in 1887 but fundraising proved to be very difficult. The solution was a merger with the congregation of the King’s Weigh House Chapel in 1887. Established in the City of London in the late seventeenth century, the Weigh House congregation was forced in 1883 from their site in Fish Street Hill to make way for the building of the Metropolitan and District Railway. Awarded £37,450 in arbitration, they became the senior partner in the negotiations surrounding the new site. The Duke of Westminster agreed to provide an enlarged site stretching between Binney and Duke Streets, again at a peppercorn rent. (In 1892, he presented the freehold of the church to the congregation.)

In April 1888, Alfred Waterhouse was asked to prepare designs. In May 1889, the tenders were received – all of which proved to be too expensive. Waterhouse made some savings, including reducing the amount of terracotta to be used. The final agreed amount came to £24, 815. The builders were John Shillitoe & Son of Bury St Edmunds. The terracotta and faience for four columns came from the Burmantofts works of the Leeds Fireclay Company. In July 1891, the completion of the church was marked by the meeting of the first International Congregational Council. By 1894, just over £30,000 had been spent on the building and fittings.

Originally, the gallery nearly formed a complete ellipse with an organ by Brindley & Foster of Sheffield at the east. Below it was the minister’s desk flanked by choir stalls. However, alterations carried out in 1903 by J. J. Burnet & Son of Glasgow changed this arrangement slightly, if skilfully and sympathetically. This presaged the liturgical changes carried out during what Stell calls ‘the idiosyncratic ministry of W. E. Orchard (1914-32)’. Burnet created a chancel at the east end without disturbing the exterior. He removed the original organ and replaced it with a new one by Henry Willis & Sons, whose two parts were placed on either side of the gallery which was slightly cut back. The original curving east wall was hidden behind a terracotta wall (with matching terracotta by the Leeds Fireclay Company), above which three windows were created. These were filled with stained glass by Robert Anning Bell. The chancel was remodelled with a marble floor and seven steps to the communion table. A new wooden pulpit was installed, together with new stalls. The cost of the alterations was £2,934 excluding the organ. John Shillitoe & Son were again the contractors.

In 1927, a new reredos designed by A. E. Henderson and made by Allan G. Wyon was installed. The church suffered some damage from a bomb on 20 October 1940. The damage was made good in 1953 in a ‘skilful and conservative’ restoration (Survey of London).

In 1965, the congregation merged with the Whitefield Memorial Church in Tottenham Court Road and the freehold of the church and the leasehold of the adjacent buildings were sold to the Ukrainian Catholic Church (an Eastern Rite Church with its own hierarchy but in full communion with the Holy See) for use as their cathedral. The building became the cathedral church of a local apostolic exarchate, which had been created by Pope Pius XII in 1957 (and was raised to the rank of an eparchy, or full bishopric, by Pope Benedict XVI in 2013). The new use entailed limited alterations, including the removal of the organ (its cases remain on either side of the chancel); the removal of the pulpit and some of the choir stalls; the introduction of pews in the place of chairs; an iconostasis by Juvenalij Mokrytsky, a Ukrainian monk; and the introduction of a confessional designed by Bentley, Son & and Marshall (on loan from Westminster Cathedral).

The basement, which originally housed the Thomas Binney Institute, named after the chapel’s most famous minister, is now used as offices.


The church is fully described in the list description (see below). 

The following list includes additional detail and furnishings not mentioned in the list entry:

  • There is an additional stained glass windows in the clerestory (third window from east on south side) depicting St Matthew, installed as a memorial to Alexander Sandison (1854-1921), minister between 1880 and 1901.
  • The remaining windows have the original tinted glass with delicate patterns. 
  • The timber confessional on the north side is that made in the 1920s to a design of c.1910 by Bentley, Son & Marshall (on loan from Westminster Cathedral).
  • At the northeast corner is a large relief of the Holy Family with St John the Baptist, said to come from the Ukrainian Catholics’ previous home, a now-demolished Catholic chapel of c.1855 in Saffron Hill.
  • The iconostasis is of timber and includes numerous icon paintings on gold backgrounds. It completely screens off the chancel created in 1903. Placed in front of it are a plain timber altar and lectern. Behind it is the high altar with the tabernacle.

Entry amended by AHP 4.5.2022

List descriptions



Church. 1888-91 by Alfred Waterhouse, as a Congregational Church. Redbrick and plentiful buff terracotta dressings (Burmantofts); tiled roofs. Carolingian Romanesque style. Corner-site running between Binney and Duke Streets. Above the rectangular ground floor level rises the elliptical body of the auditorium; tripartite, west entrance front to Duke Street, its symmetry broken by south west corner tower with steeple and, to left, by gable and ventilation turret. Triple arcaded porch in antis approached by flight of steps; centre group of tall narrow round arched lancets above, inscribed under relieving arch, and elaborated gable with arcaded machicol ations. The tower has narrow arcaded screens to middle stage and octagonal bell stage within square, pinnacled, corner buttresses, spire with gablets. Coupled gabled doorways at head of steps to Binney Street/Weighhouse Street corner, surmounted by gabled dormer in ground storey parapet. The auditorium ellipse has a steep hipped roof with iron ridge cresting. The interior has rectangular ground floor but the elliptical shape is picked up at 1st floor level by the horseshoe gallery upper walls and ceiling; glazed brick walls and 4 structural columns faced in faience; simple woodwork to gallery; sympathetic alterations to chancel by J.J. Burnet, 1903 including east window (with glass by Anning Bell) and east screen wall and flanking organ cases; pews introduced and pulpit removed for Ukrainian Cathedral with a confessional by J.F.Bentley from Westminster Cathedral; etc. Survey of London; Vol. XL.

Listing NGR: TQ2842581013

Former school and hall


Former Church school and hall. 1889-91 by Alfred Waterhouse, as part of his King’s Weigh House Church design (Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, Duke Street q.v.). Hard, red brick and buff terracotta dressings, tiled roofs. Mixed Romanesque-Gothic style. 2 tall storeys, on basement, dormers in steeply pitched roof and 4 storey tower. 5 windows wide with main 3 grouped to right. Gabled porch to right, secondary round arched entrance in gabled bay to left adjoining tower. Large mullioned-transomed 3-light windows to school room; 3-light windows above; the tower has single and 2- light round arched windows with large 2-light mullioned transomed window in arched panel to 2nd floor and triple group to top floor; the two top floors each corbelled and finished off with a low saddle back spire. The adjoining gabled bay is corbelled out over secondary doorway and has 2- light windows of varied design. 3 large gabled dormers to main block. Survey of London; Vol. XL.

Listing NGR: TQ2842981025

Former minister’s house


Terraced, former minister’s house. 1889-91 by Alfred Waterhouse, as part of his King’s Weigh House Church design (Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral, Duke Street q.v.). Hard red brick and buff terracotta dressings, tiled roof. Free Romanesque-Gothic style. 3 storeys, on basement, and 2 attic storeys in large gable. 3 windows wide. Segmental arched enclosed terracotta porch to right. 2-light mullioned-transomed windows. 1st floor has heavy, terracotta, balustraded balcony in Romanesque style. The 2nd floor corbelled out on 4 heavy brackets. Moulded coping to gable with finial.

Survey of London; Vol. XL.

Listing NGR: TQ2842981025

Heritage Details

Architect: Alfred Waterhouse

Original Date: 1891

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II*