Brook Green, London W6
An impressive early Victorian Gothic Revival church which shows the assured hand of its architect. It has much notable stained glass and carving in the altars and their settings. Its elaborate steeple forms an important local landmark in the Brook Green Conservation Area.
A Catholic mission at Hammersmith was established as early as 1669, when Sisters of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary from Munich established a house and school. The area around Brook Green became known locally as ‘Pope’s Corner’.
The present church was founded by Fr Joseph Butt, and was built on land given by Cardinal Wiseman, who laid the foundation stone on 6 May 1851. The contract cost was about £20,000 (including the spire which was not in fact built at the time), of which some £4,000 was given by Countess Helen Tasker. The opening took place on 26 July 1853. The adjacent almshouses were also designed by the architect of the church, William Wardell. Behind the church the infants’ and girls’ school was built in 1862 to designs by J. J. Scoles. The children moved to the new Sacred Heart School in 1894 and the buildings have since served as the parish rooms. The spire was built later (1867 by C. F. Hansom according to the Buildings of England or 1871 by J. A. Hansom according to Evinson and the list entry) and to a design simplified from that intended by Wardell. In 1872 the west entrance was embellished by the priest-architect Canon A. J. C. Scoles. The presbytery was rebuilt in 1963-64 in a stripped, modern style to designs by Westmore & Partners (project architect P. J. Mabley) and which clashes with the church: it replaced a pair of semi-detached houses which had previously been used. The altar was moved west in the 1970s and at the same time some of the metal screen work at the sides removed.
The church is oriented to the southeast; all directions given are liturgical.
The church is built of squared, rock-faced Kentish ragstone with Caen stone dressings, under slate roofs. It consists of a southwest tower, five-bay nave, a lower, two-bay sanctuary, lean-to side aisles, north porch, north and south chapels and an outer north chapel (the latter donated by Countess Tasker: under a separate gable). The style is Gothic of around 1300 and the windows have various tracery designs from that period (e.g. Geometrical in the east window, flowing Decorated in the north aisle east window, reticulated in the south aisle). The clerestory is narrow and has two-light windows. The tower has three principal stages with twinned two-light bell openings under triangular gables: above, it has corner pinnacles and flying buttresses to the spire which has lucarnes in alternating directions.
Inside, the church walls are plastered and all surfaces have been painted, unfortunately even the dressed stonework. The arcades have octagonal piers with moulded capitals and delicately moulded arches. In the nave and sanctuary the roofs are arch-braced and have angel hammerbeam figures at the bases of the main trusses. A chancel arch stands at the junction of the nave and sanctuary. The arches to the chapels from the sanctuary have extra embellishment in the form of carved foliage capitals. There is a glazed-in area in the west bay of the nave, above which is a gallery.
Fixtures and fittings:
Stained glass. Apart from the clerestory, the windows have stained glass, most of it by Hardman of Birmingham (e.g. east window, twelve scenes from the Passion, 1853, photo bottom right); south chapel east, 1854; south aisle first from east, date of death 1867). Later there is also much glass by Mayer & Co. (e.g. south aisle second and third from east, date of death 1886 and undated; north aisle first and second from east, dates of death 1887 and 1888.
Minton tiles in the chancel and the flanking chapels.
Rood in the chancel arch by Peter Paul Pugin, 1892.
Altars and their settings: much carved work, e.g. south chapel by J. J. Scoles with the altar and reredos depicting the Flight into Egypt and the Conversion of St Paul (photo bottom left); outer north chapel, 1854, again by Scoles, with the Sacred Heart, Crucifixion etc; north chapel with the Coronation of the Virgin.
Font and cover (in the base of the tower). Octagonal font with angels and the emblems of the Evangelists. Tall, rich Gothic cover by Wilberfoss and made by T. Orr.
Painted metal roundels in the nave depicting angels, the Virgin and Child and the Crucifixion.
The seating consists of open-backed benches, installed in the late 1980s, on a carpeted floor.
Architect: W. W. Wardell
Original Date: 1851
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: II*