Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith, London W6
A brick Romanesque-style church of moderate size, built during the First World War. It is does not have major architectural distinction but with the adjoining priory building makes a positive contribution to the Hammersmith Odeon Conservation Area. Internally, the church has been somewhat marred by an over-zealous enthusiasm for painting every surface.
The church was founded by Augustinian friars from Hoxton and is still served by the order from the adjacent priory. The friars had been asked by Cardinal Vaughan to fill a missionary gap in West Kensington, and Prior Raleigh and Fr Condon set up a temporary presbytery and chapel in a house, 71 Comeragh Road, and opened the mission there on Easter Sunday 1903. The present site was then acquired and a temporary iron church, accommodating 250 people, opened on 16 September 1903. The priory was ready for occupation in 1914. The present church followed with the foundation stone being laid in March 1915 and the formal opening taking place on 14 October the following year. The architect was Robert Leabon Curtis. It was consecrated in 1933.
The Lady Chapel was given a new altar and renewed marble décor in 1960 by D. Plaskett Marshall. At the same time its apse was opened to a new east nave constructed as part of the extensive parochial buildings but, owing to falling numbers the apse wall was restored in 1988 and the east nave put to other uses. The altar, ambo and font of Carrara marble were installed in 1988 during the renovations undertaken by the Arvanitakis Partnership.
The church is built of purple-grey bricks and has a Welsh slate roof. It consists of a nave, broad aisles under lean-to roofs, a narthex, and round-apsed sanctuary. The main roof continues at the same level over the body of the church, punctuated by a single bellcote before the apse. The style is a simple version of Romanesque with round-arched windows in the aisles, clerestory and at the west end. In the west wall of the nave is a very unarchaeological window, divided into three lights and with a deep transom: it is flanked by a single-light window on either side. The main entrance is of two orders and the arch has carvings by R.L. Boulton of Cheltenham (responsible for all the original stone carving at the church) of foliage, wheat, grapes and crosses. Above is a representation of the papal tiara, a pierced heart and a book: beneath these is the legend ‘Tolle lege’ (‘take up and read’, referring to the words of an inner voice that prompted the conversion of St Augustine). In a niche on the gable is a statue of the Virgin and Child.
Internally the church is plastered and whitened; unfortunately paint has also been applied to all the internal surfaces, including the piers which have been treated to a shiny cream colour. There are six stepped, round arches to the body of the church (five for the nave plus one for the west part of the sanctuary). The capitals are carved with scenes from the life of Christ. Around the apse is a blind arcade with pilasters rising to a ribbed vault. The main roof is arch-braced and has iron tie-rods. In the north part of the narthex is a repository.
Fixtures and fittings. There are none that require special mention but it can be recorded that at the east end of the south aisle is the chapel of St Nicholas of Tolentino, an Augustinian friar of the twelfth century: its altar is of 1920 by Edmund Sharp of Dublin. Flanking the altar are freestanding niches on plinths of Sicilian marble, housing statues of St Augustine and St Nicholas. The window depicting St Nicholas dates from 1952. The reredos picture of St Nicholas was painted by Fr Edward Cross.
Architect: Robert L. Curtis
Original Date: 1916
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed