The Crosspath, Radlett, Herts WD7
A pleasant domestic Italianate design in a suburban street, its light vaulted interior containing some old and new artworks of note.
From 1905 priests came from St Albans to say Mass in various private houses in Radlett. Miss Mary Murphy (from Cork) donated £1,000 for the building of a church, designes for which were prepared by Claude Kelly, and the foundation stone was laid by Mgr Surmont, Vicar General, on 15 August 1910. The church was built on what was then undeveloped land. The Rev. James A. Martyn took charge of the mission in 1913. Fr Martyn was a man of taste; in his parish log book he exhorted his successors to eschew ‘tawdry, ugly statues and the ghastly ornaments that are sometimes to be seen’, and he moved the church’s foundation stone because ‘it was an eyesore … there was an inscription on it as you would see on the stone of a Nonconformist chapel’. A presbytery was built next to the church in 1924.
Post-Vatican II reordering under Fr Edward Bushey involved the removal of the high altar and communion rails. A major refurbishment took place in 1987-88, and more recently an extension and parish centre were built from designs by Stephen Arthurell of Arthurell & Kirkland. This was opened by Cardinal Cormac O’Connor in January 2005. In 2006-07 the church received new furnishings by Stephen Foster and Zoe Cull; in the spirit of Fr Martyn’s exhortation, these are neither tawdry nor ugly.
The church is orientated north-south, but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar was at the east end.
An attractive Italianate design on a domestic scale, faced in red and yellow stock brick (painted render at the sides and rear), and with a tile roof. It consists of a nave/sanctuary and aisles, the south aisle housing a Blessed Sacrament chapel and the north a baptistery area. A further ‘transept’ or seating area gives off the north aisle. The west front towards The Crosspath has a red brick lean-to porch with rusticated door surround and lunette windows on either side of the entrance. Above this, the west wall of the nave has raised pilaster/quoins, a circular window and an open pedimented gable. The set back west walls of the aisles also have rusticated pilaster-quoins, and smaller circular windows; the foundation stone which offended Fr Martyn is now discreetly located on the return quoin on the south side, at its base. A similarly-detailed range extends to the north, linking the aisle and the presbytery; this contains a wide secondary entrance.
The interior is a light, airy space, with white painted plaster walls and a light oak woodblock floor. The nave and sanctuary form one barrel vaulted space of three bays, lit by lunette clerestory windows on either side. The arcade, or entablature, is supported on stout Doric pilaster-piers with triglyphs and guttae over. The aisles have flat compartmented ceilings.
The sanctuary has a dais, altar and lectern of matching stone with green slate trim, possibly by Stoneform. Above the altar hangs a large carved and painted tondo or roundel of the Risen Christ, by Stephen Foster of Ware. Its form echoes that of the west window, which contains a depiction of St Anthony of Padua with the Child Jesus, c1910 and possibly by Mayer of Munich. This window is in memory of Thomas Murphy, presumably related to the donor of the church. The Blessed Sacrament is reserved in the south aisle, on an Ancaster limestone and Cumbrian slate pedestal, by Zoe Cull (2006). Also by Cull is the font, an organic design in hard white limestone with an inscribed Cumbrian slate base, and the Ancaster stone pedestal to the statue of Our Lady ; these are both in the south aisle.
Entry amended by AHP 18.12.2020
Architect: Claude Kelly
Original Date: 1910
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed