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, photo top right).
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.
The Stations of the Cross are casts set in the tympana of the passage aisles, signed by A. Stafford and dated between 1960 and 1965.
There are symmetrical entrance both at the northwest and southwest.
The aisles hold both confessionals and side altars.
The former baptistery below the organ gallery is now the repository.
The Lady Chapel at the northeast has a sandstone altar and a statue of Our Lady.
The sanctuary has red sandstone rails.
The Perpendicular reredos has carvings of the Madonna and Child, with angels and eight Marian scenes. It is similar to the reredoses in other churches by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, such as Our Lady of the Assumption, Northfleet (1913–16).
Architect: Sir Giles Gilbert Scott
Original Date: 1957
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: II