Kensington Church Street, Kensington W8
Built for the Discalced Carmelite Order, this is a late church by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, in a free Gothic style. It replaced a war-damaged church of the 1860s by E. W. Pugin. Scott developed here several of his favourite themes, such as a continuous clerestory and a flush transept. The priory building behind the church was built in the 1880s by Goldie, Child & Goldie. Both buildings make a conspicuous and positive contribution to the conservation area.
Cardinal Wiseman asked Fr Hermann Cohen, a former professional musician, protégé of Liszt and convert from Judaism, to found a Carmelite monastery in London. In 1862, Fr Hermann came to London and temporarily based himself with the Sisters of the Assumption in Kensington Square. In 1863 he rented a large house in Kensington Church Street with extensive grounds to the south which later became the site of the church. A disused school was converted for use as a chapel. In 1864, the property was bought for £3,500. In July 1865 the construction of a permanent church began, from designs by E. W. Pugin. Built predominantly in the Early English style, the church opened on 16 July 1866. In 1875–76, the community also bought the copyhold of the remaining land along the north side of Duke’s Lane for approximately £4,600 and built there the priory, from designs by Goldie, Child & Goldie (1886–89).
During the Second World War, Pugin’s church was severely damaged. A new church was built from designs by Sir Giles Scott, Son & Partners, who had been appointed in 1954. Work on site started in April 1957 and the foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Godfrey on 9 November 1957. The church was opened in 1959. Sir Giles Gilbert Scott died in 1960 and the church is one of his last buildings. The style of the new church has been described by The Survey of London as ‘a freely interpreted late Gothic, partly North European and partly Perpendicular in its origins’.
Post-Vatican II changes were of a light touch, moving the altar forward and the font into the sanctuary.
The church is fully described in the list entry (see below). It requires just a few corrections and additions.
Roman Catholic church. 1954-59. Designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. Brown brick; cream stone dressings. Steeply pitched tiled roofs to aisles and confessionals. Roof not visible to main body of church. Rectangular plan. Simplified Gothic manner. Tall narrow nave with pronounced diagonal roofs to north and south, that to north with three large half-dormers. Full height three-light west window flanked by tall buttresses. Bellcote to gable above. Paired three-light square headed clerestory windows with cusped heads. Entrance to south-west. Interior with broad transverse pointed arches, capital-less and treated as internal buttresses with passage aisles (with square headed openings and pointed blind tympana. The pitch of the roof is expressed above the passage aisles and above the transverse arches is the clerestory and flat ceiling with timber beams picked out in white on a red background. Western gallery on short circular columns. Lower part of wall is lined in red sandstone, the upper part is plastered. Short sanctuary with altar now in forward position. Tall reredos in three panels painted in red and blue with gilded tracery and inset figures. Octagonal font now to north of altar. Pulpit of timber with red sandstone base attached to north side of chancel arch. Timber pendant light fittings with brass bell-shaped bulb holders. Spatially unusual on account of the clerestorey being placed above the transverse arches, this church is a fine example of Sir Giles Scott’s late work.
Listing NGR: TQ2554479871
Priory. 1886-9 Goldie, Child and Goldie. Long range of 5-storey stock brick buildings with stone dressings. Flamboyant Gothic style. Windows square headed with stone surrounds. Tall slate roof to parapet with stone gabled, pinnacled dormers. Return elevation to left also of note. (Surv Lon Vol XXXVII).
Listing NGR: TQ2550279862
Architect: Sir Giles Gilbert Scott
Original Date: 1957
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II