Kingston Road, New Malden, Surrey KT3
Designed by two able architects, Osmond Bentley and Adrian Gilbert Scott, and built in stages during the 1920s, St Joseph’s is a hybrid church and the end result is not entirely satisfactory. At first sight the interior is surprisingly conventional in appearance, with its Gothic arcades but Scott’s handling of many details is original.
A Mass centre was created in New Malden in 1905 under the auspices of Fr Lutz of Kingston, and with the financial assistance of Miss Frances Ellis. Permission to erect a new church was obtained in 1921. The building was designed by Osmond Bentley, son of J. F. Bentley, the architect of Westminster Cathedral. As originally designed, his church was to have had a tall pitched roof and a northwest tower (see photo) but after the completion of the south aisle there was a difference of opinion between the Fr O’Sullivan and the architect and the building was completed under the direction of Adrian Scott, with a lower roof and different fenestration. Fr O’Sullivan died in 1948, and New Malden was made a separate parish in 1949.
The presbytery attached to the church was built in 1929, the original parish hall in 1931. The hall was replaced by a new parish centre next to the church, which opened in 2006.
The church is designed in an early twentieth-century version of the Gothic style. The plan comprises a nave with west porch, combined southwest porch and bell tower, north and south aisles and transepts, a tall sanctuary and an eastern Lady Chapel. The walls are faced with red brick laid in Flemish bond with dressings and window tracery of Bath stone. The main nave and sanctuary roof is covered in copper, the aisle and other lower roofs in tiles. The west front has a projecting brick porch with twin doorways beneath a very tall three-light window with a segmental head and reticulated tracery rising almost the full height of the front to the shallow- pitched gable. Set back on either side are the ends of the aisles, two storeys high with transeptal pitched roofs. On the south side the roof terminates in a short octagonal bell tower, not rising higher than the nave. In the south face of the tower is a tall narrow projecting porch, which is presumably the original entrance to the church. The south aisle east of the porch has two four-light windows with pointed heads, then a taller transept with a taller four-light window with the two centre lights raised. East of the transept the aisle has more pointed lights in a 2-2-1-3 arrangement. The nave clerestory has three windows each of four squat lights with four-centred heads; the continuation of the clerestory in the sanctuary has one window of similar form but with trefoiled lights. Nave and sanctuary have a continuous parapet which hides the low-pitched roof. The east ends of both aisles and the sanctuary have canted corners, producing a quasi-apsidal effect. Attached to the blind east wall of the sanctuary is the low eastern Lady Chapel under its own pitched roof. The chapel has triplets of small ogre-headed windows high up in each side wall and a blind east end.
The white-painted clear-glazed interior is at first sight conventional in its arrangement, with four-bay arcades of stone pointed arches on octagonal stone columns each side of the nave and a western gallery, now with a modern glazed lobby beneath. The nave has a panelled low-pitched ceiling. But there are many idiosyncratic details. The lean-to aisles are divided from the transepts by stone pointed arches. The transepts themselves are in the third bay of the arcade rather than the fourth and the arcade continues across them. Beyond the fourth bay is a tall stone chancel arch which dies into plain pilasters. The sanctuary is the same height as the nave and has tall twin pointed arches on each side wall, long single windows in the cants of the east end and a panelled painted ceiling. The sanctuary floor is raised two steps above the nave and the high altar is elevated a further four steps. In the east wall is a tall pointed arch, now blocked. Old photographs show that the arch originally opened into the eastern Lady Chapel, producing a dramatic spatial effect. These photographs also show that there were originally marble communion rails and an octagonal pulpit against the south respond of the chancel arch. Clearly the sanctuary has been reordered, and the stone fittings are modern. The nave benches are probably from the 1930s.
Architect: Osmond Bentley, Adrian Gilbert Scott
Original Date: 1923
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed