Cathedral's History Print E-mail

All Saints' Church - 1828The Greek Orthodox Church of All Saints (a Grade 1 listed building), in the north London suburb of Camden Town, was established following the request made to Metropolitan Germanos (Strenopoulos) by a group of Greek-Cypriots for the creation of a second Greek Orthodox church in London to meet the needs of the Orthodox Community under his pastoral care, and which had grown rapidly following the influx of immigrants after the Second World War.

The building they were allowed to use was originally Anglican and had first been known as the Camden Chapel, having been built in 1824 as part of Lord Camden's development area. The architects were William Inwood and his son, Henry, who had recently completed the nearby St. Pancras New Church. In both cases, they drew on Classical Greek architecture for their inspiration. In the case of All Saints, the inspiration for the tower had been Lysicrates' monument in Plaka in Athens (known from the 17th century as Diogenes' Lantern).

All Saints' CathedralOf the Camden Chapel, the architectural critic of the 'Literary Chronicle' wrote: 'On the whole, we consider it highly creditable to the taste of the architects, and an acquisition to the architectural beauties of the metropolis - (However,) when viewed at a distance its general form is not particularly pleasing. The tower does not harmonize well with the body of the structure. The building is most advantageously seen at a short distance from the portico, where all the beautiful details and execution of the front are conspicuous'. (Quoted by John Richardson in 'Camden Town and Primrose Hill Past', 1991).

The building subsequently became known as St. Stephen's Church and, later, as All Saints'. It was to suffer some damage during the air-raids of the Second World War, doubtless on account of its proximity to a number of important train termini.

Metropolitan GermanosThe church was first used for Orthodox worship in 1948, with the existing dedication of All Saints' being retained. The first Orthodox liturgy was held at All Saints' on 25th April 1948 (Palm Sunday), with Archbishop Germanos of Thyateira & Great Britain and Archimandrite Parthenios officiating. The church was later purchased by the Community, and subsequently raised to Cathedral status, being consecrated by Archbishop Gregorios of Thyateira and Great Britain (who had previously served as its parish priest) on 17th November, 1991. It celebrates its patronal feast on the first Sunday after Pentecost.

Today, the galleried interior is dominated by the icon screen that separates the apsed eastern portion of the church from the main body of the building. This was carved by Chrysanthos K. Taliadorou of Nicosia in 1974; and it was the same craftsman who was responsible for the Holy Table and its ciborium. The main icons on the screen are particularly impressive and come from the previous one, being attributed to a Russian artist living in France, while the icons of the upper range reflect the style of painting on the Island of Cyprus.

Archbishop GregoriosIn the windows of the apse are three stained-glass circular panels which probably date from the eighteenth century and which would appear to be of Flemish or North German origin. They depict the Baptism of Christ, His calling of little children to Himself, and (perhaps) the Stoning of St. Stephen ' although this panel, unlike the other two, is particularly badly damaged. All three panels are characterised by the rich colour of the glass used. In addition, there is a depiction of the Raising of Jairus' daughter, given in memory of the chaplain of a ship torpedoed during the First World War.

Elsewhere in the church are to be found icons and other liturgical objects that have been donated to the Community over the years by members of the congregation and others.