Dining in the 'Footstool' was a perfect prelude to a wonderful Lunch-time concert
An Oasis of Culture, History and Refreshment in Westminster
St John`s Smith Square is a beautiful former church in the centre of Smith Square close to the River in Westminster. After sustaining damage in the Blitz it was sold to a charitable trust and now serves as a concert venue.
It is a Grade I listed church and is one of the finest examples of English baroque architecture in the country. The building is impressive and stately and is a popular destination for visitors seeking high quality musical entertainment at lunchtime and evening.
The church was designed by Thomas Archer and was completed in 1728. The site was acquired from Henry Smith (who was also Treasurer to the Commissioners) in June 1713 for £700 and building commenced immediately but finally completed and consecrated in 1728. In total, the building had cost £40,875.
It features four corner towers and monumental broken pediments. It is often referred to as 'Queen Anne's Footstool' because as legend has it, when Archer was designing the church he asked the Queen what she wanted it to look like. She kicked over her footstool and said 'Like that!', giving rise to the building's four corner towers.
The concert hall itself is a unique venue, situated in the quiteness of this ancient building, minutes from Millbank and the cacophony of Parliament and its attendant visitors. It is large, beautiful and seats over 200 in the 'congregation' whilst boasting an eye catching Georgian interior flanked by viewing galleries high up. The stage is punctuated by two large Doric columns against a backdrop of a large red curtain.
Ingres to the hall is made through the crypt (now a restaurant) where the expanse of the hall unexpectedly opens out after climbing a small spiral staircase. The stage is clearly visible from most points in the hall with a highly impressive acoustic quality.
The Footstool Restaurant
There is a fine restaurant beneath the Hall under the vaulted ceiling of the crypt. It has a comprehensive menu and wine list providing an elegant venue for lunch or dinner. The food is prepared freshly by our chefs from locally-sourced seasonal ingredients, and they offer a range of fine teas and roasted coffees, and an extensive beverages selection.
We visited SJSS for a lunchtime concert prefaced by a meal in the 'crypt-based' restaurant. It was a great holistic experience and both lunch and the performance were notable. It was very good value for money and we would recommend both. The architecture inside and out is highly impressive and should be on the trip plan of visitors looking for a bit of Westminster 'off the beaten track'.
How to get there
Tube: Westminster (District, Circle and Jubilee lines), St James's Park (District and Circle lines) Victoria (District, Circle and Victoria lines), Pimlico (Victoria line).
Buses: 3, 87 to Millbank (Lambeth Bridge); C10, 507 to Horseferry Road (Lambeth Bridge); 88 to Marsham Street; 11, 211, 148 and 24 to Westminster Abbey.
Rail: Victoria, Waterloo, Charing Cross.
Car parking: St John’s Smith Square is within the congestion charging zone. On street Pay & Display parking and Residents Parking is in operation 8.30am-6.30pm, Monday-Saturday. There are two parking bays reserved in Smith Square for disabled badge holders. Click HERE to visit the Westminster City Council website for more information about parking.
Santander Cycles: A docking station is located in Smith Square and there are also stations on Horseferry Road, Page Street and Great College Street.
Address: St John's Smith Square, Smith Square, London, SW1P 3HA
- , Downtown Westminster
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