Gravel Hill, London N3
An interwar church in the Romanesque style favoured by its architect, T.H.B. Scott, completed after the war in the same style by his son. Architecturally, the most impressive part of the building is the interior, with its bare brick arches. The church occupies a prominent position on a raised site in the local conservation area.
In 1918 the Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice, who ran homes for young girls in business, moved from Kensington to the Old Manor House in East End Road, Finchley, and the following year a new parish was founded in Church End, Finchley. Services were held at first in the convent chapel. In 1925 the parish acquired a large house known as Derwent House, standing in nearly an acre of ground at the junction of Regent’s Park Road and East End Road (now Gravel Hill). The ground floor of the house was converted to serve as a chapel with accommodation for the parish priest on the upper floor. In 1930 a new hall was erected in the garden of Derwent House by the building firm of George Taylor Ltd. In 1933 a new church and presbytery were built to the designs of T. H. B. Scott. Only the (liturgical) eastern part of the church was completed. In 1959-60 the church was completed by the addition of three western bays under the supervision of T. G. B. Scott. Derwent House was demolished in 1965 to make way for a new and larger parish hall and the 1930s hall attached to the church became a weekday chapel and sacristy. Minor flat-roofed additions were made to this building in 1970. The sanctuary of the church was reordered in 1968, and subsequently reordered by George Mathers in the 1980s.
St Philip’s church is designed in a simple Romanesque style. The walls are faced with red brick laid in Flemish bond, the roof is covered in pantiles, the windows are all metal-framed. The building is not orientated; the liturgical east end lies towards the west. The plan comprises an aisled nave of seven bays under a continuous pitched roof with a lower apsidal sanctuary. The flat-roofed aisles widen at the east end, which is the original 1930s part of the building. The church occupies a sloping site and the (liturgical) west end is approached up a steep flight of steps. There is a round-arched central doorway with a mosaic of St Philip in the tympanum; the door is flanked by smaller round-arched windows with a stepped triple window above under the gable of the nave roof. The west walls of the tall flat-roofed aisles have single round-arched windows. The south side of the church is built hard against the boundary with private land. On the north side the western bay has a round-arched window with an oculus above. The six bays eastward have pairs of round-arched clerestory windows with brick aprons beneath. The seventh bay repeats the arrangement of the first. Pilaster strips mark the bay divisions and the eastern bays step forward; the change in width marks the division between the original 1930s church and the 1959-60 enlargement.
Inside, there is a vestibule with a west gallery above which opens into the church under a semi-circular arch. The nave has tall five-bay north and south arcades with semicircular arches on square piers and an open timber roof with king-posts and raking struts. The side walls are plastered to full height in the 1990s by Canon Thomas, but the west wall and the arches of the nave arcades remain bare yellow brick. The eastern bay contains the altar, raised on steps. The wall of the eastern apse is lined with marble pilasters supporting an entablature with an elaborate cornice.
Architect: T. H. B. Scott; T. G. B. Scott
Original Date: 1933
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed