Wimbledon Park - Christ the King

The Crescent, Wimbledon Park, London SW19

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A  thoughtful  interwar  church  designed  by  a  member  of  the  Scott dynasty of architects, with an unassuming exterior but a dignified Italianate interior with most of its original high quality fittings.

Mass was said in the Wimbledon Park area from 1913 and a church was begun on part of the present site but not completed, served by Jesuits from Sacred Heart, Wimbledon.   In 1926 work began on the present church, under the direction of Fr Ignatius O’Gorman, SJ.  The church was dedicated to Christ the King, a feast which had been instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925. The building was completed in 1928, from designs by Adrian Gilbert Scott. Wimbledon Park became a separate parish in 1955, and the church was transferred to the Diocese by the Jesuits in 1959.

The exterior of Scott’s church is in a stripped Basilican or Italianate style typical of much interwar Catholic church design.  The building comprises an aisleless nave and sanctuary under a continuous roof, with two shallow projections on the north side, a southwest porch, a single shallow projection and a southeast Lady Chapel.  The walls are faced in small buff coloured bricks laid in stretcher bond with occasional courses of headers.  The pitched hipped roof is covered with black pantiles.  The west front to Arthur Road is blind apart from a single round-headed window set in a round-headed reveal.  The  flat-roofed  southwest  porch  has  double  doors  in  a  classical  stone surround with the words ADVENIAT REGNUM TUUM (‘Thy Kingdom Come’) in the architrave.  The nave east of the porch is of five bays.  On the north side the alternate bays step forward and each has a single round-headed window.  On the south side the rhythm is more complex because the eastern projection is the Lady Chapel with its own hipped roof.  The red brick parish hall is attached directly to the east end of the sanctuary.

Inside the main entrance, one flight of steps leads down to the nave and another up to the west gallery.   The nave space is basilican in character, with an open timber king-post roof; the plain plastered walls have a dado of American hemlock.   The timber western gallery under a tall semi-circular arch is borne on two columns of a modified Ionic order. On the north side of the nave are two tall shallow round-headed recesses with a round window in the arch and doors to confessionals on either side. On the south side is a single such recess and the south Lady Chapel now dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochowa.  In the east wall a tall round-headed gives onto the short sanctuary with a single window each side.  All the windows in the church are clear glazed.

Most of the fittings appear to be original and most are of good quality. They include the main altar and Lady Chapel altar, which both have elaborate Italianate reredoses, the bronze sanctuary rails, the massive stone font under the west gallery and the handsome timber benches.

Diocese: Southwark

Architect: Adrian Gilbert Scott

Original Date: 1938

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed