Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Winston Churchill Memorial and Library

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Institution Name: Westminster College (MO)
Original/Historic Place Name: [and] Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury
Location on Campus: northwest corner of Seventh St. and Westminster Ave. (on campus)
Date(s) of Construction and Designer(s):
1667-1677original construction in Britain Wren, Sir Christopher
1962-1969reconstruction Unknown
Type of Place: Individual building
Style(s): (Glossary)
Foundation: stone; concrete
Walls: Portland limestone
Roof: copper; lead
ca. 1677other (church)
ca. 1969-present (2007)memorial site
ca. 1969-present (2007)chapel

Significance: history
Landmark designation:
National RegisterWestminster College Historic District (1982)
Narrative: see below
References: see below

The original Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury was designed in the English Baroque style by the 17th-century architect Sir Christopher Wren. It was designed in 1667 to rebuild a 12th-century church of the same name destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and was constructed in 1677 on the corner of Aldermanbury Street and Love Lane, London, England. In 1941, the church was hit by a Nazi incendiary bomb and gutted. All that remained of the church after the Blitz were the exterior walls, the tower and twelve interior columns that separated the nave from the side aisles. In 1962, these remains were given to the board of trustees of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, who had them dismantled, shipped to the United States and used to reconstruct the original Wren church as a memorial to Winston S. Churchill, who delivered the internationally significant "Sinews of Peace" speech at the Westminster Gymnasium in March 1946, when the term "iron curtain" was first introduced into public usage. The Winston Churchill Memorial and Library is located in a rectangular undercroft.

The Church of St. Mary has primary significance as the only example of an original 17th-century church designed by Sir Christopher Wren to be reconstructed in the United States. This significance is greatly enhanced by the fact that reconstruction was meticulously carried out with the aid of Wren's original plans for the church. The church is one of the finest examples extant of Wren's overriding preoccupation with the amalgamation of centralized and longitudinal space. The Church of St. Mary now stands as a lasting tribute to Churchill, and the museum and library in the undercroft houses a significant collection of artifacts, manuscripts, and imprints. The church is also used as Westminster College's chapel.

I. Bibliographic sources:

Bolton, Arthur T., and H. D. Hendry, eds. [Publications] / Wren Society. Oxford: Printed for the Wren Society at the University Press, 1942.

Hauer, Christian E., Jr., and William A. Young. The Phoenix of Aldermanbury: A Comprehensive History of the London Church and Parish of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1994.

Oliver, Beryl. The Winston Churchill Memorial and the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury: A Brief History. London: Faith Press, 1969.

Hollrah, Warren, Ann Stimble, Eve Saunders, and Karen Grace. Westminster College Historic District. National Register of Historic Places designation report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior/National Park Service, 1982.

II. Location of other data:
University: Library, Special Collections, Facilities Management Office
Government Offices
Other: Guildhall Library, London; Lambeth Palace Library; Archives of the Church Commissioners of the Church of England

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Last update: November 2006