Building » Hanwell – Our Lady and St Joseph

Hanwell – Our Lady and St Joseph

Uxbridge Road, Hanwell, London W7

Near the centre of Hanwell, this large 1960s church is a forceful modern design by a prolific firm of church architects. It is a late example of traditional, longitudinal planning which was being supplanted at the time as the ideas emanating from Vatican II came into play.

In the 1830s a Mas centre was set up in Hanwell to serve migrant Irish workers employed on the Great Western Railway. This was served from Turnham Green. A church was built in 1865 and consecrated by Cardinal Bourne in 1918. This was demolished in 1963 and replaced by the present one at a cost of £125,000. It was built in 1964-67, being opened by Cardinal Henan in November 1967. The church was consecrated on 9 December 1972.

Major refurbishment in 2010 included the installation of a new circular stained glass window at the east end, a collaboration of the local artist Sophie D’Souza and Martin Jarvis, under the direction of Kyle Smart Associates, architects.
New oak furniture made in Poland was installed, along with a stone floor in the sanctuary and a new limestone altar by Jim Keegan.


The church has a very angular design, clearly a product of the 1960s. It has reinforced concrete framing and its walls are faced with dark red-brown brick. The dominant feature on the body of the church is the triangular, concrete-framed window forms (of two sizes) set in the roof. Aluminium forms the roof covering. The entrance front is triangular in plan and is in two registers, separated by a broad band of bare concrete. In the upper register is a large, stylised sculpture of the Holy Family by A.K. Brobowski, set beneath the projecting gable of the roof. Over the sanctuary is a tall tower with a transverse saddleback top: it is extensively glazed to light the sanctuary below: the wall, facing away from the church is blind.

The body of the church has eight bays, the end ones of which are taken up by the projection from the sanctuary at one end and the narthex (with gallery over and a repository beneath) at the other. The ruling feature is the reinforced concrete framing of the building. Each truss has slightly inward sloping members which are bifurcated and with the twin members set at an angle to one another. At the start of the roof level they incline inwards more sharply and meet the adjacent trusses at the apex. They thus form triangular features – as it were latter-day counterparts of the cells of Gothic vaulting; in the centre of the cells are triangular windows which form such a prominent motif outside. Just below the springing of the roof are horizontal strips of glazing. The sanctuary is brightly lit by the windows in the tower.

Fixtures and fittings: At the west end is extensive glazing with coloured glass, randomly arranged, by Goddard & Gibbs, who were responsible for similar glazing in the other windows of the church. At the east end, backlit by a lightbox, is a large circle of illuminated coloured glass installed in 2010; made by Sophie d’Souza from a concept by Martin Jarvis, this has an abstract pattern representing the Resurrection and formed part of a general scheme of reordering and refurbishment carried out at that time.

Heritage Details

Architect: Reynolds & Scott

Original Date: 1967

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed