Building » Hounslow – St Michael and St Martin

Hounslow – St Michael and St Martin

Bath Road, Hounslow, Middlesex TW3

A suburban brick church in Basilican Romanesque style, one of many such built in the interwar period to meet the needs of Catholics in expanding London suburbs. The interior has good marble and mosaic decoration at the east end, but its spatial character has been spoilt by the introduction of a suspended ceiling. The exterior makes a notable contribution to the local streetscape.

In 1687 James II had a prefabricated chapel built at the military camp on Hounslow Heath. After the accession of William III this was rebuilt in Conduit Street as an Anglican chapel of ease to St Martin in the Fields.

Mass was said at Hounslow Barracks from 1862, by priests from Sunbury. A resident priest was appointed in 1884 and lived at Burdett Lodge, in the Bath Road. A dual purpose school-chapel was built behind the house in 1886.

As with so much of this area of west London, Hounslow expanded greatly between the wars and the present church was built in 1928-29 to meet the needs of the increased Catholic community. It was designed in the Italian Romanesque style by George Drysdale, who had worked in the offices of Ernest George and Leonard Stokes. The sanctuary was reordered and a suspended ceiling introduced in the nave by Broadbent, Hastings, Reid & New in 1981.

Description

The church is oriented to the southwest so directions given are liturgical.

The church is built of dark brown brick and is in a round-arched, loosely Romanesque style. It has a four-bay nave (with narthex) with fairly narrow lean-to aisles, and a sanctuary at the east end with a shallow apsidal projection; at the northeast of the nave is a Lady Chapel. Along the nave is a clerestory of twelve round-arched windows. The roof is of red pantiles. The show fa├žade is to Bath Road. This has a triple-arched entrance; above this are three majolica roundels of Christ flanked by two cherubs. Above these are four semi-circular arches and then a pedimented gable. A stubby bellcote with a single bell opening sits at the north side of this ensemble. The ground floor mostly has no fenestration.

The interior is characterised by a wide nave (approximately 35 feet) with plain semi-circular arches to the arcades on either side. The sanctuary lies beyond a rounded arch and is side-lit by triple windows on either side. The nave area has received a suspended ceiling between the tie-beams, which reduces the sense of height and space. It would seem that the church interior originally had bare brick walls but these have been painted over, mostly with creamy-white paint. The sanctuary is largely painted in light yellow but its walls are plastered and may have been from the start. At the west end is a gallery which contains the organ.

Fittings and furnishings:

  • The east end is embellished with rich marble and mosaic work. The sanctuary (reordered in 1981, with a new forward altar) has a fine grey-pink marble dado round the apse which has a tall grey-green backing to a Crucifix. This is surmounted by a semi-circular canopy. The east end of the south aisle the Sacred Heart Chapel has a reredos with a figure of Christ in opus sectile framed by gold mosaic. The surrounding panels are of grey-pink marble with mosaic borders. The Lady Chapel is also similarly embellished. Further such work is to be found on the ambo.
  • Font: Now sited at the entrance to the sanctuary. It is of tapering white marble and at the top a band of (symbolically) blue wavy mosaic decoration.
  • Unusually, the seating is with chairs rather than benches.
Heritage Details

Architect: George Drysdale

Original Date: 1929

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed