The magnificent Grade II* listed building in which the Landmark is housed was formerly the Church of St Alban the Martyr.
The construction of the church was completed in 1889. The church was used for worship until the early 1970s, being informally known as the ‘Cathedral of the Thames Valley’ in recognition of its towering presence.
The church, originally designed for a congregation of 1200, became redundant and was neglected for many years.
However a passionate campaign by local people and others interested to preserve Victorian architecture meant that the building was rescued to become the home of a new charitable art centre charged with mounting a dynamic and varied arts programme for the benefit of the local community and beyond.
The church of St Alban the Martyr was designed by architect William S Niven. Niven, who lived locally and who had been a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott, was involved with the restoration of the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey, an influence that was to have a profound effect on his design for St Alban.
The design, in the French Gothic style, was based on a 13th century church in France.
Though the church was operational from 1889 there had been insufficient funds to complete the building to its original design, with its west end being closed by a ‘temporary’ wall of asbestos sheeting giving it a ‘bomb damaged’ appearance at its west end
Falling congregations meant that the building became redundant and neglected for many years.
However local people campaigned strongly for the building to be saved, both for its architectural merit and to serve as a building for use as a community arts centre.
Scarcely a week passes when casual passers-by, intrigued by the building’s massive presence at the end of Teddington High Street, don’t ring the bell and ask to look around. And they are not disappointed!
One of the key features of the former church is its amazing pulpit. With its ornate base and soaring canopy, the pulpit is a magnificent piece of work of outstanding proportions and of a unique design, regarded by English Heritage to be a particular treasure of the building.
The pulpit’s setting was a special characteristic of St Alban’s. It is located half way down the nave - inspired, we believe, by similar placements in French churches. Anyone preaching from our pulpit would have been inaudible to those in the front half of the congregation who would have had to turn their chairs round for the sermon - and back again afterwards!!