Kingston Road, Ewell, Surrey KT19 0BW
St Clement’s Church is a striking building, and its bell-tower is a local landmark. Inside there are some excellent fittings, all of which were specially designed for the church. But despite this, the flaws in the original design – especially the orientation of the stained glass windows away from the congregation – must weaken any case that could be made for the church to be listed.
St Clement was consecrated in 1962. The architect was Justin Henry Alleyn (1908-1983). He went into practice in 1947 as J H Alleyn Associates, his partner being P J C Durling. The partnership was dissolved in 1980 and Alleyn continued as sole proprietor of the firm until his death in 1983.
The free-standing bell tower of St Clement’s is one of the few arresting features of the of the busy 4-lane Kingston Road. The church stands a little way back from the road and is built of brick and reinforced concrete with a copper roof. What makes the design unusual, however, is the zigzag profile of the two long walls of the church. The eastern faces of the triangular projections contain windows. As these windows face east, all you see when you enter the church is the rippling surface of the brick walls leading your eye towards the altar. Although imaginative, the placing of the windows has not proved satisfactory. For one thing, their stained glass can only be seen from the sanctuary, and for another, even on the brightest days, the church needs to be artificially lit. The interior was successfully re-ordered with new lighting and a new circular sanctuary in 2003.
The east wall is adorned with a huge fresco of the Trinity painted by a Dominican priest, Father Aengus Buckley. The painting in the Baptistery is also his work. The windows contain chunky stained glass designed by Pierre Fourmaintreaux of the Whitefriars Glass Studio. The font is of dark green Italian marble and has a cover of natural anodised aluminium. The bell was cast at the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
The extension which forms the narthex and includes a meeting room was added in 2003. The re-ordering of the interior, carried out at the same time, has, in my view, enhanced the interior.
Architect: Justin Henry Alleyn
Original Date: 1962
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed