Building » Barnes – St Osmund

Barnes – St Osmund

Castelnau, Barnes, London SW15

A small church built in 1954-5 to a design of 1939 by Archard & Hardy. The interior has striking parabolic arches, while the exterior is more conventional. Furnishings include fine Stations of the Cross by Philip Lindsey Clark. The church makes a positive contribution to the Castelnau Conservation Area.

The mission at Barnes was founded in 1907 when a chapel-of-ease was established at 77 Castelnau, whose lease was acquired from the Church Commissioners with help of a donation from Miss Frances Ellis. The drawing room of the house was converted to a chapel and Mass was first said there in 1908. The chapel was first served by the Salesians from Battersea until 1909, when Fr Etienne Robo, curate at Mortlake, was given responsibility for Barnes. In 1910 Fr Michael Lawrenson was the first resident priest, living above the chapel. Bishop Amigo chose St Osmund as the patron saint for the mission. After Fr Lawrenson’s death, the parish was again served by the Salesians. In 1922 Miss Catherine Leake became tenant of the upper part of the house; her nephew, Fr Oscar Leake, took charge of the chapel in 1923.

In 1924 the freeholds of 77 and 79 Castelnau were purchased from the Church Commissioners. Fr Leake built a church hall alongside no. 77 which he immediately turned into a chapel, while no. 79 became the presbytery. Funds began to be raised for a new church and the architect, Mr Archard, drew up plans in 1939. However, lack of funds and the war delayed the building project. In 1948 the temporary church was enlarged by means of a ‘Nissen’ extension.

In September 1953 building work finally got underway, starting with the hall and the sacristies at the rear of the new church. The architects were Archard & Hardy and the builders were Messrs Hussey Bros. In March 1954 work started on the church, according to the plans of 1939 by Archard, adapted to take account of the post-war shortage of materials and increase in costs. The builders for the church were Messrs C.H. Gibson who also made all the joinery, including the original altar, communion rails, benches and pulpit. The church was opened on 16 July 1955 by Bishop Cowderoy. The cost of the church was over £26,000. Together with the church, a new entrance foyer and toilet block were added to the hall.

Contemporary photos show a reredos and canopy of fibrous plaster by Messrs G. Jackson & Sons which were removed during a later reordering. They were replaced by a matching set of furnishings of marble with fluted bases. The altar rails were also removed. The original side chapels of Our Lady and St Joseph were changed at some point, creating a baptistery and a Holy Family chapel at the east end, and a Reconciliation Room at the northwest.


The church is facing west. This description uses the conventional liturgical orientation.

The church was built in 1954–5 to a design of 1939 by A. J. Hodsdon Archard, executed by Ronald Hardy of Archard & Hardy. It is built in Crowborough stock bricks laid in English bond, with a pantiled roof. The windows have metal frames. The internal arches are built in brick. The plan is rectangular, with sacristies at the east and southeast, and a projecting northwest chapel. The hall is attached at the east.

The west front has a tall single pointed arch with a deep stone reveal, encompassing the west doors of Burma teak and window. To the left is the foundation stone. The eaves  are  supported on  tile  kneelers  and  the brickwork has  a regular  pattern  of projecting headers. The gable has a metal cross. To the right is a covered walkway linking the church’s south door and the presbytery, which has a metal gate leading to a side door of the sacristy.

The narthex below the gallery has statues of Our Lady and St Joseph, as well as a pietà  beside a small window with stained glass depicting Our Lady (by Goddard & Gibbs), in memory of Esther M. Archard (1872–1953). The gallery stair is at the northwest. The west window by Goddard & Gibbs depicts the crucified Christ. The nave has four bays divided by parabolic arches pierced by smaller pointed arches to form passage aisles. Each bay is lit by dormer clerestory windows and aisle windows only on the north side. At the west end of the north aisle is a timber statue of the Infant of Prague. Beside it is the Reconciliation Room, with an inserted timber and glass partition, and a stained glass window of the Virgin and Child (Goddard & Gibbs). (This might have been originally the Lady Chapel.) The stone Stations of the Cross are by Philip Lindsey Clark FRBS. On window cills in the north aisle are statues of St Osmund (signed M. Raffl, Paris) and the Sacred Heart.

The northeast side chapel is the baptistery with a circular skylight above the circular fluted marble font which matches the rest of the sanctuary furniture. On the north wall is a memorial tablet to Fr Frank Ryan, parish priest 1937-72. The sanctuary has a lectern and tabernacle stand to match the font, and the altar mensa is supported by a similar fluted drum. The circular east window depicts the dove (probably by Goddard & Gibbs). Below it is a Christ the King crucifix. The southeast chapel has a fluted pedestal matching the sanctuary furniture with the statues of Our Lady and St Joseph by Clark below a circular skylight. In the south aisle is a statue of St Anthony and two former confessionals (now used for storage).

Heritage Details

Architect: Archard & Hardy

Original Date: 1955

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed