Notre Dame Church
5 Leicester Place Soho London WC2H 7BX
A delightful surprise on a dingy scrap of an alleyway linking Chinatown with Leicester Square, this airy French church holds one of London’s best-kept secrets – a beautiful mural by the genius poet, artist, writer and filmmaker Jean Cocteau. Painted in 1959, it is a typically fluid, bold and touching work, showing scenes from the Annunciation, the Crucifixion and the Assumption, including muscular Roman soldiers, Mary weeping, and the bottom half of Christ’s body upon the cross. Cocteau the filmmaker was enjoying a wave of popularity in London when he was invited to make the mural, and the church had a job to keep out the paparazzi and curious fans, keen to catch a glimpse of the artist at work. It took Cocteau just over a week. The church itself is spacious, light and serene – a wonderful place to take a breather from the craziness outside.