Cathedral Church of the Dormition and All Saints, London

The rather snappily titled Cathedral of the Dormition of the Mother of God and All Saints stands in a cul-de-sac, Ennismore Gardens, across the road from Hyde Park.

Originally an Anglican church it was built in Italianate style in 1846 with rebuilding done in 1892. It is quite unusual for the Anglican church to build an Italianate structure like this one and it somehow seems more suited to being something more exotic, like the Russian Orthodox Cathedral that it is today.

Up until 1978 the Russian Orthodox Church had been in Holborn, it was then moved to this site after the Anglicans decided they didn’t need the church any longer. It was founded as a Cathedral by Metropolitan Anthony. He arrived from his native Switzerland in 1948 and operated an open church policy, welcoming worshippers from all faiths. He refused to have anything to do with the Soviet authorities and welcomed perestroika when it came. Although he has now died, his successor, Bishop Basil continued to operate the open house policy.

However, great controversy was to follow. The Moscow Patriarch dismissed Bishop Basil and took control directly of the Cathedral in London. It became a place purely for Russians to worship and the open house has become closed. The controversy has become so great that there have been TV debates and one subset of the congregation has abandoned the Cathedral and set up an alternative church, ironically back in Holborn.

Photos - Andrew J. Müller

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