Architects Architecture Town Houses

St Catherine of Alexandria’s Church + St Mary the Virgin’s Church Littlehampton West Sussex

Larks Ascending

Both are named after female Christian saints. Both are Grade II Listed. They are separated by a 300 metre distance as the dove flies. They are separated by more or less six decades of history. One is built of rubblestone with ashlar dressings. The other is built of purplish brick with sharp stone dressings. Elizabeth Williamson, Tim Hudson, Jeremy Musson and Ian Nairn record in The Buildings of England Sussex West, 2019, “Littlehampton is pleasant, but, like most West Sussex seaside towns, disjointed. The joy of it is in the landscape of river and beach.” Between said port and resort lie the Roman Catholic Church of St Catherine of Alexandria and the Anglican Church of St Mary the Virgin, two of Littlehampton’s rather discrete charms.

St Catherine’s was founded by Minna, Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, in memory of her husband Henry, the 14th Duke, who had died in 1860. It is one of five churches founded by the Dowager to commemorate the Five Holy Wounds. Architectural historian Dr Roderick O’Donnell explains, “St Catherine’s was designed by Matthew Ellison Hadfield and is one of the most prominent Roman Catholic churches on the south coast. Augustus Welby Pugin compliments the architect in 1843 and 1850.” The architectural style is, of course, Gothic Revival.

The church forms a very attractive pairing with its priest’s house by the same architect. The modulations of the slate roofs are particularly remarkable, from a stonking big bellcote to a thoroughly traceried gablet of timber framed trefoils and quatrefoils. Later additions include St Joseph’s Chapel and a sanctuary extension, both carried out by Pugin and Pugin, the practice established by Augustus Welby Pugin and continued by his descendants. St Catherine’s Church and Presbytery retain their architectural integrity, providing a dignified focal point to the mainly residential suburb of Beach Road.

Further inland on Church Street is the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin. Originally a Georgian Gothick church designed by George Draper in 1826, architect William Randoll Blacking transformed the building in the 1930s. The result is a robust piece of loosely Tudor Revival architecture: a simple, bold, geometric composition. Various elements of earlier incarnations have been retained in the structure, such as stained glass from the 14th and 19th centuries, but the overall effect is a solid and coherent piece of early 20th century ecclesiastical architecture. A striking copper roof, hidden at ground level by a parapet, highlights its cruciform shape from a dove’s eye view. St Mary’s Cemetery drapes a welcome green apron around the church.

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Littlehampton West Sussex + River Arun

She Walks in Beauty

Like a Byronic “night of cloudless climes and starry skies” Littlehampton is an ironic sleepless beauty of brightness and darkness imbued with nameless grace. “We are not self made,” says Sierra Leonean Lebanese model Yasmin Jamaal. “We are life made. What we do with our life experiences creates the person we are.” Yasmin tells us, “As a believer, I would say God does not give you a burden you cannot carry and angels really do exist in human form.” In the words of Lindy Guinness, the last Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, “How very charming!”

Architecture Luxury People Town Houses

Littlehampton West Sussex + One

As Forcefully Uplifting as the Countermelodic Opening Bars of Allegro Energico 1st Movement Symphony 1 by Victor Hely-Hitchinson and It’s Not Even Christmas Yet

It’s the town on everyone’s luscious lips. Londoner Astrid Bray says “you bring the party with you”. Everything is very grand and very mad. “It’s all about the third fermentation” notes Jan Konetzki Director of Wine at Four Seasons London. Global Director of Rare Champagne Parisienne Maud Rabin observes “everybody is saying c’est la vie: this is destiny. Always in a positive way”. Every frame is a still life drama. And like Montenegro’s Kotor, the Christmas decs are perennial. We’re only getting started.

Architecture People

Bishop of London + Fulham Palace London

The Forgiveness of Things

“The Bishop of London lived at Fulham for almost 1,300 years,” explains the current Bishop, “but by 1973 times had changed and it was no longer appropriate or convenient for the Bishop to live in a Palace. The Church Commission initially let the site on a long lease to Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Today, Fulham Palace Trust manages the site.”

The Bishop adds, “I live in a more modest house close to St Paul’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Diocese of London. However, I watch the work of Fulham Palace Trust with interest and admiration as it restores the Palace and garden to reveal its long and fascinating history. The work to ensure that this beautiful historic site is accessible to Londoners and visitors from further afield is very important to me, as we all search for meaning and belong­­­ing in a rapidly changing world.”

The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Dame Sarah Mullaly is the first female Bishop of London. She left her previous post as Chief Nursing Officer of England in 2004 to pursue full time ministry. Her take on this is: “I am often asked what it has been like to have had two careers, first in the National Health Service and now in the Church. I prefer to think that I have always had one vocation: to follow Jesus Christ, to know him and to make him known, always seeking to live with compassion in the service of others, whether as a nurse, a priest or a bishop.”

Bishop Sarah is also a Lord Spiritual in the House of Lords and a Member of the Privy Council. She concludes, “The Trust’s 2017 to 2019 restoration has transformed the iconic Tudor court buildings into a new museum, repaired the 15th century brickwork, reintroduced historic species of plants in the garden and opened up the site with new and improved paths.”

Design Fashion Luxury Restaurants

Daphne’s Restaurant + Bamford Haybarn South Kensington London

Everyone Likes It Hot

Macaronis and cheese anyone? That’ll be our movie. Moving on, we’ve got the hottest table in the coolest restaurant on the hottest day of the year. More Sahara than Siberia. Hot in the city. While the Christian name “Daphne” is most recognisable as Tony Curtis’ alter ego in Some Like It Hot, “Daphne’s” belongs to Princess Diana’s fav Italian local. Founded in 1964 by theatre agent Daphne Rye, just when nearby King’s Road was gearing up to the era, Daphne’s has since become a South Ken institution.

The restaurant is in cool company. Bamford Haybarn, one of Lady Bamford’s forays into retail and a shrine to sensational scent, is three doors down. Joseph and Chanel, shops not people, hang out in this Draycott Avenue ‘hood. Serena Armstrong-Jones, Countess of Snowdon, had a charming eponymous gift shop on Walton Street back in the day when she was Serena Linley. Her shop has come and gone. As for fashion, Isabel Marant flies the flag on Walton Street these days. Daylesford on Sloane Avenue is another of Lady Bamford’s organic outlets. Its canopy announces an all embracing offer: “farmshop, café, bar, butcher, bakery, cheese, fish, larder, wine, home store”.

Under current owner restaurateur Richard Caring’s watchful eye, Daphne’s was given the full Martin Brudnizki treatment half a century after it first opened. The Swedish interior architect puts it succinctly: “Minimalism, maximalism, modernism, classicism – I’ve done them all. For me they are the four pillars of design. I take a bit of each and mix them in different strengths depending on the client.” Dublin born designer David Collins, who died prematurely in 2013, transformed a swathe of hospitality interiors in London. A fresh eclectic glamour upped the stakes and steaks at The Wolseley restaurant for starters and Artesian Bar at The Langham Hotel for nightcaps. Martin Brudnizki upholds that tradition, from giving minimalism a Scandi twist at Aquavit restaurant to maxing out maximalism at Annabel’s club.

Daphne’s interior floats somewhere between minimalism and maximalism, blending modernism with classicism. A vivid palette of pinks, yellows, greens and oranges recalls the hues of sun drenched Verona gardens and rooftops. The conservatory dining room is a light confection of bevelled mirrors, linen awnings, 1950s Murano chandeliers, modern European art and a baroque style green marble fireplace.

Effortlessly sophisticated, Daphne’s is neither the place to try out macaroni cheese nor entry level wine. Lunch is Pinot Grigio di Lenardo Friuli 2018 (grape expectations); scallops with chilli and garlic (park those kisses); ravioli with buffalo ricotta and asparagus (so this season); Wedgwood strawberry cheesecake (china town). And selection of Italian cheese (please).

Architects Architecture Art Design People

St Mary’s Cathedral + Crypt Hamburg

Domkirche St Marien Kindertagesheim

In the second half of the 19th century, the population of Hamburg increased to include an influx of Roman Catholics, thanks to industrialisation and port expansion. Paderborn based architect Arnold Güldenpfennig was commissioned to design a new Roman Catholic parish church in the red brick neo Romanesque vein. The Church of St Mary was consecrated by Bernhard Höting, Bishop of Osnabrüch, on 28 June 1893. A dramatic pair of twin spires pierce the sky over the St Georg quarter. A century or so later, on 7 January 1995, the Archdiocese of Hamburg was reinstated and Pope John Paul II elevated the Church of St Mary to cathedral status.

Ludwig Averkamp was the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of Hamburg (1995 to 2002) of the 20th and 21st centuries. The cathedral underwent a significant rebuilding project (2007 to 2008) before being reopened by the then Archbishop of Hamburg, Werner Thissen (2003 to 2014). Since 2015, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Hamburg has been Stefan Hesse. Aged 54, he is the youngest archbishop in Germany and is known for his forthright messages. He recently gave his slant on the immigration debate:­ “Racism and xenophobia are in contradiction to the message of Jesus.”

Hamburg based Architektur + Stadtplanung Ewers Dörnen restored the main building and added a single storey with basement extension to the southeast. A glazed cloister enclosing a garden leads to stairs descending into a crypt. A vaulted chapel opens into the columbarium. The pebble floored, gold ceilinged, geometric metal walled, exposed bricked space was designed by Klodwig + Partners of Münster. It is an extraordinary interior of great tranquillity.

Another 21st century intervention is Architektur + Stadtplanung Ewers Dörnen’s minimalist altar which is fashioned from a single sandy limestone block to represent unity. The table surface rests on three supports representing the Trinity. The limestone, all 3.5 tonnes of it, came from Vilhonneur in France. The post war stained glass windows were created by Johannes Schreiter. Inspired by the Old Testament book of Isaiah, the artist’s abstract compositions in colours ranging from white and pale grey to yellow and brown to tones of blue reflects messages from the prophet.

The Munich art school Mayer’sche Hofkunstanstalt was commissioned in the 1940s to create a mosaic over the apse. The glittering ceiling is based on the apse mosaic of Santa Maria Maggiore Church in Rome, created by Jacopo Torritti in 1295. Hanging in front of the apse is Heinz Gerhard-Bücker’s 1993 cross of 4,000 year old moor oak. On the front is a gilded Corpus Christi; on the back, a gilded lamb. St Mary’s Cathedral is a striking amalgamation of sturdy 19th century architecture and even sturdier 21st century architecture with sturdy 20th century design thrown in for good measure.

Parish Priest Monsignor Peter Mies greets visitors to the cathedral: “A warm welcome to St Marien Dom – how good that you’re here! The St Georg district is one of the Hanseatic City’s most vibrant quarters. It’s an area of the city offering light and shade: original restaurants, creative advertising agencies and a teeming multicultural backcloth are as much part of this as homelessness, prostitution and social tensions. Amidst all this stands St Marien Dom, the cathedral church of the Archbishopric of Hamburg. That the Dom should be located precisely here is a helpful sign; so too is its close proximity to all sorts and conditions of people cherishing such a variety of hopes and cares, life plans and world views. It’s precisely for them that St Marien Dom aims to be here, as an oasis offering calm, culture and fruitful encounters.

The radiant power of St Marien Dom extends far beyond its precincts. As the seat of the Bishop it is of significance throughout the Archbishopric of Hamburg, covering not just the Hanseatic City, but also Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg. Roman Catholics may form a minority here, constituting around 10 percent of the population. Yet with their numerous institutions and the dedication of many full time and honorary staff, they play a crucial part in the life of northern Germany – in just the same way as the Dom stands for the area. Whatever may have brought you to us: you are most warmly welcome!”

Next door is a multidenominational Christian giftshop called Geistreich. It sells a pack of three napkin designs, each one embellished with the music to several verses of “Geh Aus Mein Herz” (“Go Out My Heart”). It is a congregation exhausting 14 verses in length. The words by Paul Gerhardt (1607 to 1676) were later set to a melody by Augustin Harder (1775 to 1813). A sacred summer song, Geh Aus Mein Herz forms part of the Lutheran hymnal.

Architects Architecture Art Town Houses

Brahms Kontor Hamburg + Brick Expressionism

Copper Bottom

Hamburg is a city of brick buildings. Reddish, purplish, brownish. Bäckerbreitergang in Neustadt is one of the earliest examples. This red brick half timbered terrace of houses along a narrow cobblestone street is a survival from 1780 (nos. 49 and 50) and the early 19th century (nos. 51 to 58). But really brick came into its own in the opening decades of the 20th century when Expressionism swept across the city. The Brahms Kontor office building on Johannes Brahms Platz opposite Gorch Fock Wall is a brick’s throw from Bäckerbreitergang. The top two storeys of this 11 storey great purple brick pile are stepped back – Hamburgers love a good ziggurat (think Steigenberger Hotel). Architects Werner Lundt and Georg Kallmorgen’s original 1904 building was enlarged by Ferdinand Sckopp and Willhelm Vortmann in the 1920s and 1930s. Brahms Kontor is a commercial triumph of classical modernity. Six copper male nudes protruding from the side elevation considerably liven up the architecture. The Broscheks Building, now the Marriott Renaissance Hotel, is another fine example of Expressionism. In a similar purple brick to Brahms Kontor, only gilt tipped in places, it was designed by Fritz Höger in 1925.

Architects Architecture

St Nikolai Church + Monument Hamburg


This site hasn’t been blessed with much luck. The medieval church was destroyed by the Great Fire of Hamburg in 1874. One of the old church’s ministers had been Johannes Bugenhagen, a chum of Martin Luther. Its Gothic Revival replacement, designed by the English architect Sir George Gilbert Scott Senior, didn’t fare much better. Once one of the tallest buildings in the world, the church was blown apart by British bombing during World War II. The tower and parts of the external walls have been retained as a monument. In 2005, a glass lift was installed in the tower to whisk visitors up to experience sweeping views of the city. The charred steeple and nave bared to the sky make for dramatic architectural scenery.

Architecture Hotels Luxury

Steigenberger Hotel Hamburg + Lavender’s Blue

Business Suits

We’ve one in every port. Favourite hotel. Sharp suited no nonsense take no prisoners shoot ‘em professional corporate types. That’s us. Does Steigenberger fit our bill in Hamburg? Will GMP Architects Wolfgang Haux and Volkwin Marg’s overhauled pyramidal zigguratish brick mountain be rare enough among the hot Hamburgers or is its reputation overcooked? Thankfully Steigenberger sails through and surpasses our expectations. Knock ’em dead.

Hotels Luxury People Restaurants

Petite Tortue Hamburg + Pascal Bechét

Untold Story

Well of course we would end up at the launch of a smart French brasserie. On a rainy windswept evening, there is nowhere better to be in Germany than Petit Tortue on Neuer Wall. We’re the toast of town, the icing on the gâteau. Fresh meat among the Hamburgers so to speak. Tchin-tchin! The little sister of Hotel Tortue, the brasserie shares the same tortoise inspiration. “It’s about taking life at a relaxed pace,” owner Pascal Bechét tells us over a leisurely flow of tartines à la Française, plats simples, petits plaisirs savoureux, petits plaisirs doux and Perrier-Jouët. If this is relaxed, we’re liking it. Very Paris, very Hamburg, very us.

“There are about 10 French restaurants in Hamburg,” confirms Monsieur Bechét. “But none as close to the canals as this one.” C’est merveilleuse but we want to know more about la tortue. “Oh là là! When Hamburg was a département of Paris in the early 19th century, none other than Napoléon stayed in this historic quarter. He and his companions brought with them the idea of that world famous savoir vivre. The delightful art of living without hurrying. And which creature is extraordinarily good at this? Et voilà! La tortue. It reminds us to take our time, especially when we don’t have any.” La nuit ne fait que commencer.

Architecture Art Design Fashion Luxury Town Houses

Neuer Wall + Alster Arcades Hamburg

They Do It Better Here

Neuer Wall is one of the classiest streets in Germany’s second largest city. This being Hamburg, it runs parallel with two canals. Neuer Wall is designer store heaven. To name a few: Acne Studios, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Chanel, Dolce + Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Mahlberg, Isabel Marant, Jil Sander, Dorothy Schumacher, Louise Vuitton. Occupying the majority of the southernmost urban block on the far side from Alsterfleet Canal is a development that celebrates all that is good about German town planning.

The blur of old and new architecture, public and private space, external and semi enclosed is so well handled in the rebuilding of Görtz Palais and what lies beyond. In a highly complex case of town planning par excellence, the central archway of the rebuilt Görtz Palais leads through to a sloping corridor lined with shop windows which in turn opens into an arcade with arches on one side open to Bleichenfleet Canal. Steps lead onto a series of interlinking courtyards: Stadthof, Treppenhof and Bleichenhof, all wrapped in an abundance of ceramic tiled walls. An archway reveals the best open space of all: the courtyard of Hotel Tortue. Piped classical music adds another thrill to the experience. They do it better here.


St Georg Hamburg + Lange Reihe

Sekt + The City

This is what Saturday mornings are all about. Sipping Speicherstadt coffee at a pavement table outside Café Blanco watching the oh so chilled locals stroll by down Lange Reihe. “Moin moin!” This is what Saturday afternoons are all about. Sipping Sekt at a pavement table outside Ghruëberg watching the oh so chilled locals stroll by up Lange Reihe. “Moin moin!” The only beings in a rush are the red squirrels overhead. St Georg. The ‘hood that’s so cool it has its own bubbly.