Paradise Street, Rotherhithe, London SE16
A plain brick mission church built to serve a dockland parish and paid for by the widow of the renowned Egyptologist and Catholic convert Sir Peter le Page Renouf. The large barn-like interior contains some notable furnishings of the 1920s.
The Rotherhithe mission was established in 1858 in a large house in Rotherhithe Street. A church was built adjoining this in 1861, from designs by Edmund J. Kelly (it was bombed in 1942 and not rebuilt).
In 1892 a school-chapel was built in Paradise Street. The present church was built in 1902-03 from designs by F. W. Tasker, with the cost of £6,000 met by the widow of Sir Peter le Page Renouf (1822-97), the renowned Egyptologist and Catholic convert. In 1911 a two-storey school was built behind (to the south of) the church by G. H. Walls Grove, Architect and Builder (plaque on building); this closed in the 1960s and the building is now used as a parish centre.
The sanctuary was remodelled in 1925-30 by Fr David Leahy, who also commissioned the Lady altar.
The church is in a functional, stripped Romanesque style, without tower or aisles, built of yellow stock bricks under a slate roof. There are round arched entrances on the north and west elevations, that to the north with a very shallow projecting gable, and receding brick arches. Tall, narrow round-arched windows mark the six bays to the east of this. On the west elevation is a large circular window in the gable over the doorway, a Tasker hallmark. The attached presbytery lies to the east. This is also of stock brick, with a round arched entrance approached by a flight of steps. A plain elevation of five bays, with segmental-headed sash windows, now renewed in uPVC.
The church interior consists of a single unaisled space of seven bays, with the wide span of the king-post roof supported on hammer beams. There is an organ gallery at the west end, its enclosed underside forming a narthex with a carved holy water stoup, given in memory of the donors. The sanctuary occupies the eastern bay of the main space and a shallow apse beyond this, raised up with which is a giant white marble baldacchino. This has coffering in the underside of its arched top and Egyptian-style capitals, possibly in honour of the donor (although the baldacchino was added 25 or so years later). This, the forward altar, ambo and retaining walls are all of Sicilian marble. On the north side of the sanctuary is the Lady Altar, with a stone Gothic reredos of Our Lady flanked by St Joseph and King David, and with marble cladding to the walls (similar to F.A. Walters’ chapel to Our Lady of La Salette, at Melior Street, Bermondsey, qv). Nearby is a plaque to the donor.
The Stations of the Cross are framed canvas paintings which appear to be original. The statue of St Joseph is by Mayer of Munich.
Architect: F.W. Tasker
Original Date: 1902
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed