Cobham - The Sacred Heart

25 Between Streets, Cobham, Surrey KT11 1AA

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Sacred Heart, Cobham, was designed by one of England’s most revered 20th century architects, Henry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel (1887-1959).  A multi-talented man, he was a fine musician, architectural critic and wit.  From 1933 to 1936 he was Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford; in 1936 he was appointed Director of the Architectural Association but left after a year or two; and from 1937 to 1939 he was President of the RIBA.  As an architect he is generally considered most successful as a designer of churches.

n the Catalogue of Works at the end of H S Goodhart-Rendel 1887-1959 edited by Alan Powers Sacred Heart, Cobham is described in this way:

The church has a typical Goodhart-Rendel plan, expressed in classical forms inside and out with Georgian Gothick windows and small-scale Doric columns.  Simple barrel vaults of fibrous plaster spring from a reduced entablature, with passage aisles exploiting a Lutyenesque ‘disappearing pilaster’.  The logic of the plan creates internal space and external modelling unlike any previous classical church, with an American flavour in the white-boarded cupola, and half-hipped gables recalling Philip Webb.  The church demonstrates Goodhart-Rendel’s belief in the relativity of style, presumably chosen in this case as a comment on the prettiness of the surrounding suburbia.

Photographs printed in Alan Powers’ book of 1987 show the church as it was when completed in 1958.  Since they were taken the church has been extended both to the east and west.  The result is that, although the additions have been quite carefully designed in matching style and materials, some of the picturesque charm of the original form has been lost.

As already stated, although the interior of Goodhart-Rendel’s pretty neo Georgian church remains just as it was the exterior has been somewhat changed by the later additions.  With the exception of the small pilastered porch, however, the original building is all still there even if, sandwiched between the extensions to east and west, it has lost some of its visual impact. Goodhart-Rendel was an exceptionally interesting designer, particularly of churches, many of which have been sadly damaged by later alterations.  Comparing the design of the church at Cobham to those of his other churches, it may be said that, though typical in plan, it is unique in style.     

            

Diocese: Arundel and Brighton

Architect: H S Goodhart-Rendel

Original Date: 1958

Conservation Area: No

Modifications: late 20th century.

Listed Grade: Not listed