MY PERFECT DAY
The Revd Canon Dr Stephen Evans, rector of St Marylebone Parish Church, describes his perfect Marylebone day
Interview: Clare Finney
Sadly, I start work before many places in Marylebone open for breakfast, so I have breakfast at home if I’m working. However, if we are meeting friends for breakfast, we usually go to The Providores. Their Turkish eggs are fantastic. Even their granola looks good, although I’ve never actually tried it because I always just go for those eggs.
This is the first time my wife and I have lived in a house without a garden—but we do have a roof terrace on the roof of the rectory and if the sun shines, we’ll spend all our time up there. We have roses, hydrangeas, hops—but no vegetables unfortunately, as they kept being eaten by the ducks coming from Regent’s Park.
I wear black—it’s an occupational hazard, really. I am one of those priests that always wear black as I want people to know I am there for them. I take being rector of St Marylebone very seriously. It is not just the building: it’s the whole area, the people who come to church and the people who don’t. Sometimes people stop and have interesting conversations with me; sometimes people stop and are incredibly abusive. I am, however, wearing a pocket square from Paul Smith on the high street, to break up all the black.
Where else but from Pete Fernie, at the RoMo Coffee stall on the church portico. It is officially number one in London. It provides a soft interface between the outside world and the church, which is quite an imposing building. Sadly, Pete is leaving us soon to study at Cambridge, so we are actively looking for someone to take the space.
When you’ve had a Rococo chocolate you just don’t want anyone else’s chocolate. Some chocolatiers can be hit and miss, but I’ve never had a Rococo chocolate I didn’t like. The Silver Shop on New Cavendish Street is excellent—they do all our silver repairs here at the church—and then of course there is Penton’s, which keeps everyone in Marylebone going, really. It’s a wonderful thing to have nails and tools in one place and designer clothes next door.
The Wallace Collection is one of the world’s great museums, in my opinion. It’s the most extraordinary collection in the most extraordinary space. I love the really small bronzes. Most people walk past them on their way to The Laughing Cavalier, but I think they are just beautiful. And of course, I have to mention our church: a Grade I listed building, open 365 days a year, with connections to a huge number of great cultural figures and a professional choir. In July, we are hosting the fourth year of the St Marylebone Festival—every piece of music must have a connection to Marylebone: someone who’s born, lived, died or been married here. It’s remarkable how many people that is.
108 Bar. It’s buzzing, there’s a whole range of spaces, the cocktails are great, and Gareth is a lovely general manager. Also, I got to name a cocktail—the Margroni, which is a negroni made with Marylebone Gin.
Fischer’s. It's one of those places that feels as if it has always been there. From the moment it opened it became a proper neighbourhood restaurant: the staff are fantastic, and I am passionate about their himmel und erde and their topfenstrudel. I also think Ravinder and Nadim have done something very special with Jikoni on Blandford Street. I blessed their marriage, which was delightful, and I love their food. You cannot quite pin it down.
Chance would be a fine thing! I have meetings and events almost every evening, so I am very rarely in. When I am, my secret pleasures are Vera, Hinterland, Shetland and The Man in the High Castle, though it is very dystopian and dark.
It is a joy to work with my incredible team, delivering so many extraordinary enterprises, from our two schools to the doctors’ surgery and the counselling centre, to providing chaplaincy to The London Clinic, King Edward VII’s Hospital and the Royal Academy of Music. There are always new challenges, though: the roof has started falling off, for example, so this year we need to raise £9 million to rebuild the masonry.