Ever Noticed This Stars-And-Stripes Church Tower?

By M@
Ever Noticed This Stars-And-Stripes Church Tower?

Next time you emerge from Lambeth North tube, take a close look at the church spire opposite.

The Kentish ragstone steeple of Christ Church, Westminster Bridge Road sports distinctive red bands, like the crimson engirdlements round a Morris Dancer's calves. But look closer and you'll see a nod to American, not English tradition.

The bands are separated by rows of stars. Viewed under a clear sky, the red, white and blue conjures images of the US flag — especially if you dick about with hue/saturation levels like we did in the top image. It's Stars and Stripes in the sky. Old Glory doing the Lambeth Walk.

This is deliberate.

The church's guiding light, Christopher Newman Hall, had argued passionately for the abolition of slavery in America. He decided that the tower should serve as a memorial of emancipation, and dubbed it the Lincoln Tower, in honour of the anti-slavery President.

Image public domain.

The structure was half-funded by American donations, while its foundation stone was laid by the American Ambassador General Schenk. It was opened on 4 July 1876, exactly 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was approved. It could scarcely be more American if you clad it in donuts and baseball gloves and called it Hank.

Alas, the church took significant damage in the Second World War, and only the tower now remains from the original set of buildings. A new concrete block, including a chapel and office space, was added in the 1960s. It is now known as the Oasis Centre.

Image creative commons by Camposanta

Donald Trump recently disparaged the US embassy in Nine Elms as 'a lousy location'. What he doesn't realise is that the Stars and Stripes have been flying over the old marshes of south London for 140 years.  

Last Updated 29 June 2022