Building » Mile End – The Guardian Angels

Mile End – The Guardian Angels

Mile End Road, London E3

A red brick Perpendicular church with a distinctive tower, built by F. A. Walters for the family of the Duke of Norfolk as a memorial to Lady Margaret Howard, who had performed charitable work in the East End. It includes several original and historic furnishings. With the adjoining presbytery, also by Walters, and Leonard Stokes’s primary school, the church belongs to an important and prominent ensemble of historic buildings in the Clinton Road Conservation Area.

The history of the mission and church is described in the list entry (see below).

The builders for the church were James Smith & Sons of Norwood. The total cost of the church was about £11,000. Originally, the sacristy was in the crypt and the southeast chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart (from 1977 the sacristy).

F. A. Walters’s drawings for the presbytery in the RIBA collection are dated September to December 1903, suggesting it was built after the church. The builders were Holloway Brothers of Victoria Wharf. Walters also designed a new entrance to the Boys’ School from Whitman Road (RIBA, PA1168/5(9)).

The church was consecrated on 5 October 1927. A new organ was installed above the Lady Chapel, which was blessed by Archbishop Goodier in March 1931. In March 1932, F. A. Walters & Son designed a Sacred Heart altar for the church (PA UNCAT/7).

The immersion font and large nave altar date from a reordering in the 1980s by Mattia del Prete with the architect Antonio Incognito of Rome. The church is home to a number of communities of the Neo-Catechumenate Way.


The building and its furnishings is fully described in the list entry, below. There are only a few corrections and additions:

  • The east window was given by the fifteenth Duke of Norfolk in memory of his sister, Lady Margaret Howard.
  • The southeast chapel was converted to a sacristy in 1977.
  • The wrought-iron gates by Bainbridge Reynolds include also those to the sacristy. 
  • The ‘openwork altar by Earp and Hobbs’ in the list entry presumably means the reredos and canopy designed by F. A. Walters and made by Earp and Hobbs.
  • The reordering which included the immersion font and the nave altar are by Mattia del Prete (not Matteo del Preti as spelled in the list description) with the architect Antonio Incognito of Rome.
  • The original octagonal stone font survives in the narthex. This may be the font from the first, temporary mission church.
  • The original sacristy is in the crypt below the east end. It is now a parish room but retains a memorial tablet to Lady Margaret Howard (died 1899).

List descriptions



Guardian Angels Roman Catholic Church, Mile End Road. Roman Catholic church, 1901-3 by F.A. Walters. Perpendicular style. Red brick with Ancaster stone dressings, copper-sheathed fleche, slate roof not visible. 

PLAN: aligned north-south, with liturgical east end to north. Entrance to right, beneath tower; presbytery (listed separately) to east. 3-bay nave: gallery at (liturgical) west end, Lady Chapel at (lit.) north-east; two-bay chancel. 

EXTERIOR: Main (lit.) west end to street with large seven-light traceried window, set beneath a shouldered gable end. Four openings to crypt beneath. Blocked arched door way with crenellated parapet to left, main doorway to right, with moulded brick arch and Arts and Crafts-influenced bronze grille over, embellished with IHS monogram. Smaller arched doorway with grille to right. Triple arched niches with cusped heads over main entrance, the central one with stone canopy flanked with narrow lancet windows; crenellated hood mould of stone over. Single lancet opening with hood-mould above. Upper part of tower is octagonal, with crenellated parapet, slatted two-light belfry openings to main sides, blind brick arches to angles. Short fleche with pinnacle over. 

INTERIOR: three-bay nave with gallery at west end. Moulded piers with broad moulded arches, clerestorey with pairs of plain leaded lights over. Open scissor-trussed roof, the trusses carried on brackets carved with angels holding shields embellished with sacred monograms. Chancel arch flanked on either side by stone niches with statues: to (lit.) north, St Thomas a Becket, to (lit.) south, St Dunstan. Stone pulpit to (lit.) north of arch in the Perp. Style, with relief of eagle to front set within blind tracery. Entrance to crypt to (lit.) south of chancel arch. Chancel with moulded piers; spandrels of arcade with stone reliefs of angels, holding shields decorated with instruments of the passion, coffered ceiling. Lady Chapel to (lit.) north, with organ over. Large crypt below comprising two main chambers. 

FIXTURES: items of note include a rood screen, inscribed REGNAVIT A LIGNA DEUS (‘God ruled from the wood’). Panelled openwork altar by Earp and Hobbs. Tabernacle with enamelled gilt door. East window by N.H.J. Westlake, showing Christ in majesty flanked by the Virgin Mary and St Joseph, with SS Margaret of Scotland and Clare in the outer lights. Wrought iron gates to Lady Chapel and to crypt entrance by Bainbridge Reynolds. Total immersion font of stone, or recent date, in centre of nave, designed by Matteo del Preti. 

HISTORY: this is the successor church to a mission chapel opened in 1868 by Archbishop (later Cardinal) Manning, which offered the first Catholic place or worship in this area. The present church was paid for by Lady Mary Howard in memory of her sister Lady Margaret; the foundation stone was laid in October 1901 and opened for worship on 25 March 1903. Its architect, F.A. Walters, was a late follower of the tenets of Pugin and one of the leading Roman Catholic architects of his generation; he is best known for his work at Buckfast Abbey, Devon. A carefully designed former mission church, forming a notable group with the neighbouring presbytery (q.v.). 

SOURCES: Denis Evinson, ‘The Catholic Churches of London’ (1998), 232-234; The Builder, 4 April 1903, 368.



Early C20. Neo-Tudor style. Red brick with battlemented parapet. 3 storeys, with window band at each floor, mullioned with 5 lights. Bottom floor 4 windows, all casements.

The New Globe Public House forms a group with Nos 361 to 373 (odd), the Guardian Angels Roman Catholic Church and Nos 377 to 381 (odd).

Listing NGR: TQ3634382489



1894. Architect L Stokes. Stock brick with red brick dressings. Plain, well proportioned, building. Parapet with railed, curved treatment. 3 storeys. 5 windows, segmental arches, glazing bars. Red brick bands between floors and banded corners.

Listing NGR: TQ3631282504

Heritage Details

Architect: F. A. Walters

Original Date: 1901

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II