Finchley Road, London NW11
A handsome and substantial early twentieth-century Gothic church by Arthur Young, with flushwork decoration to the towers and several internal furnishings of note.
In 1908 Fr William Bendon arrived in 1908 and served as chaplain to the Carmelite Sisters in Bridge Lane, where local Catholics could also attend Mass. The site for a new mission church was acquired in July 1909 and the building of a presbytery was at once put in hand. A parish hall (St Edward’s Hall) was built in 1911 and served as a temporary church. Cardinal Bourne laid the foundation stone for the new church on 25 March 1914 and the church was opened by the cardinal on October 13, the Feast of St Edward the Confessor, 1915. Fr Bendon died in 1920 and was buried in Finchley cemetery, but was later reinterred outside the south wall of the church. The church was consecrated by Bishop Butt on the feast of St Edward, 1930.
The ornamental carved stonework was by the noted architectural sculptor Joseph Armitage and the leaded glazing by A. E. Sedding. The carved stone reredos was installed in 1925 to designs by Arthur Young; the carved figures of the reredos, the work of Philip Lindsey Clark, were added in 1934 as a memorial to Fr Bendon. The stained glass in the east window by R. L. Hendra and G. F. Harpes was installed in 1947 as a thanksgiving after the war and as a memorial to a parishioner, Captain Michael Allmand VC. The church was repaired and redecorated in 1960 following an arson attack which damaged the sacristy and part of the church. The sanctuary was reordered in the 1970s and again in 1996, the latter under the supervision of David W. Aitken, when the altar was brought forward under the crossing and a new tabernacle plinth installed by Martin Duncan-Jones. New stone portrait corbels to the nave arcades carved by Geraint Davies and John Dasgupta were installed in 2008.
The church is a substantial building in a Perpendicular Gothic style of East Anglian character. Its architect was doubtless influenced by J. F. Bentley’s church of the Holy Rood at Watford. The external walls are faced with purple-brown brick with Bath Stone dressings and ornaments and roof coverings of brick tiles. The church is conventionally orientated and the plan comprises a nave with north and south aisles, north and south transepts, a square crossing tower and a sanctuary flanked by side chapels and sacristies.
The handsome west front facing the road has two slim octagonal towers with chequerwork decoration beneath crenellated parapets. Between the towers is a pointed entrance doorway with a moulded stone surround and above it the nave front is filled by a five-light pointed window with elaborate tracery. In the gable is a stone rood, carved by Joseph Armitage. Flanking the nave are single-storey porches with hipped roofs and behind them on both sides are pent-roofed aisles with two-light traceried windows under hoodmoulds. The nave clerestory has longer windows of similar pattern. East of the nave is a substantial square crossing tower with three two-light windows on each face and chequerwork crenellated parapets. The short transepts are the same height as the nave and have five-light traceried windows in their end gable walls. The sanctuary is also of the same height and has three two-light windows on each side with lower pent-roofed sacristies. The east end wall has a five-light traceried window and a modern-looking addition across the lower part which is presumably part of the rebuilding after fire damage in 1960.
The church was listed Grade II in 2016, following Taking Stock. List description at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1429919
Architect: Arthur Young
Original Date: 1915
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II