by Unknown artist, oil on panel,
circa 1840 NPG 6181
© National Portrait Gallery, London
The population of London was rapidly expanding with not enough churches for the growing numbers. In Westminster there were only St Margaret’s, next to the Abbey, and St John’s, Smith Square.
When her parents died a few days apart in 1844, Angela decided that a fitting memorial to her father would be a new church in the most deprived area of his constituency. With the help of the Bishop of London, Charles Blomfield, Miss Coutts negotiated for a large site owned by the Abbey on Rochester Row on which to build a church, a school and a vicarage. Leases had to be bought, and it all took some time. But for the church, as can be seen today, no expense was spared.
The Burdett-Coutts School still thrives, but the vicarage, that was on the corner now occupied by Westminster College, proved too big and difficult to heat. (The vicarage is now the far side of Vincent Square.) Though St Stephen's was always 'her' church, and she hoped to be buried in it, she built several others including another St Stephen's in Carlisle.