Hoxton Square, Hoxton, London N1
An economically-built but distinctively-designed mission church and priory, by E. W. Pugin for the Augustinians. Pugin also built a school (demolished). The interior has an unusual timber arcade and a number of high quality historic furnishings, including the high altar and reredos of 1875 by Mayer of Munich. The buildings make a notable contribution to Hoxton Square, in the South Shoreditch Conservation Area. Recent investigations have uncovered painted polychromy in the sanctuary.
The area was served from the Kingsland mission until two Irish Augustinians arrived in August 1864, following an invitation from Cardinal Wiseman. Charles Walker, a Catholic businessman had advanced £1,609 to buy 18 Hoxton Square as a temporary priory with a makeshift chapel on the first floor.
Hoxton Square was laid out in the seventeenth century as a fashionable residential square. However, by the nineteenth century, this was a poor area with many Irish workers. The Shoreditch furniture trade increasingly turned houses into workshops and housing became scarce and overcrowded.
The foundation stone for the church was laid in the garden of 18 Hoxton Square on 20 September 1864 by the Vicar General, Dr Edward Hearn. By late March 1865, the sanctuary and five nave bays were sufficiently complete to hold a concert. The incomplete church was opened on 4 May 1865 by Bishop Grant of Southwark, with a sermon preached by Monsignor Manning. No. 17 Hoxton Square was purchased as a temporary priory while no. 18 was demolished and the church extended westwards over its site. The completed church was opened on St Monica’s Day 1866. E. W. Pugin was the architect; he had previously been commissioned by the Irish Augustinians to build the church of SS Augustine and John in Dublin (1862-75/92-5). The builder was Mr Oxborn of Clapton. According to Evinson, here was the first use in a Catholic church of passage aisles.
Subsequently, 19 Hoxton Square was bought and demolished for the new priory by E. W. Pugin (not completed until after 1870). Once this was habitable, no. 17 was demolished for a new school, also designed by E. W. Pugin (opened 1870). By 1870, the cost of the demolitions and construction of the three buildings cost about £13,376. In 1879, 16 Hoxton Square was bought and the site used to expand the school.
In 1875, the timber altar and reredos by Mayer & Co of Munich were installed. In 1880, John Young built a Lady Chapel which was blessed by Cardinal Manning in December. In 1907, E. W. Pugin’s school building was demolished and replaced by a new building which was opened on 4 July 1908 by Archbishop Bourne.
The school was sold by the Augustinians in the 1970s as it had been replaced by post-war buildings at the corner of Mundy Street and Hoxton Street. The former school was converted to a fitness studio and has now a restaurant on the ground floor with flats above. In 2011, Henley Halebrown Rorrison architects added a modern penthouse. The former boxing club and hall to the east of the priory was sold in 2004.
The west front of the church was cleaned, repaired and conserved in 2007-8.
The church and priory are owned by the Augustinians, while the primary school is owned by the Diocese.
The church faces north. This description uses the conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar was to the east.
The church is briefly described in the list entry (see below). There are only a few corrections and additions:
Mission church. 1865-6 by Edward Welby Pugin for the Augustinian Fathers, extended 1880. Stock brick with some stone dressings, slate roof supported on timber arcade. Eight-bay nave with aisles and western gallery, has timber arcade with bracing and chamfers, supporting trusses with cross braces; exposed rafters over rose-window clerestorey, leads to two-bay chancel with paired arcade and lancets. The west front a tight composition with Perpendicular west window over central door – a taut composition between two massive buttresses and oversailed by narrow bellcote. East window with stained glass of 1924 by M E Aldrich Rope. Altar and reredos attributed to Edward Welby Pugin. Single-bay Lady chapel 1880 by John Young. Underneath the gallery a door gives access to the priory (q.v). Included as part of a rare surviving composition of church, school and priory by an important architect who here produced a cheap building that nevertheless has considerable distinction.
Listing NGR: TQ3318082796
Priory of the Augustinian Fathers, 1862-4 by Edward Welby Pugin. Stock brick with stone and red brick dressings, slate roof with brick stacks to right. Deep rectangular plan with three-bay front, three storeys and attics. Original front door to left with chamfered panels and brass letter box, windows replaced in original round-headed openings and of no interest. A careful composition ordered by sill bands and hood moulds that continue round corner of building. Interior retains original joinery to doors and dadoes of exceptional quality; original staircase with heavy chamfered newels. To left a door connects with St Monica’s Church (q.v.). Included as part of a composition with the church and school.
Listing NGR: TQ3319782795
Architect: E. W. Pugin; John Young
Original Date: 1866
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II