Ashchurch Grove, London W12
A red-brick Edwardian suburban church in the Gothic style of around 1300. It is well-proportioned and has a good, spacious interior. The east end is impressively decorated. Externally, the church and attached presbytery makes an important contribution to the streetscape of the local conservation area.
In June 1889 Fr Arthur Pownall opened a room at 33 Askew Crescent as a first chapel. With the financial assistance of the Hon. Charles Petre, Fr Bernard Pownall (the cousin and successor of Fr Arthur) erected a school-chapel in Rylett Road, which was opened in May 1892 (entrance now in Gayford Road). Afterwards the chapel was enlarged and then superseded by an iron church in the playground. This temporary church proved inadequate and plans were drawn up by the architect-priest Canon A. J. C. Scoles of Yeovil for a new building (he was then newly in partnership with Geoffrey Raymond). The foundation stone was laid on 29 March 1903, the intention being to leave the building of the north aisle till later. However, when the incomplete church was opened on 5 April 1904, arrangements were already in hand for the remaining aisle and chapel to be built, thanks to the generosity of Charlotte Petre. The overall cost was £6,000. Romanesque had been the intended style but this was switched to Gothic of the style of c1300, more usually favoured by Scoles. A presbytery was built at the same time, also from designs by Scoles, this in a loosely Perpendicular style.
Reordering of the church took place, it is thought, in the 1970s but was sympathetically done, with the pulpit and high altar retained, and with the communion rail reused at the east end of the sanctuary.
The church is built of bright red brick with Portland stone dressings under a red tiled roof. It consists of an aisled, six-bay, nave with clerestory (narthex with gallery in the west bay), a two-bay, square-ended sanctuary, a Lady Chapel flanking the sanctuary on the north side, and sacristies linking the church with the presbytery. The style is Gothic of around 1300. The fenestration is varied, including foiled circular windows to the aisles and sanctuary, twinned lancets in the clerestory and two pairs of twinned lights in the west wall with a foiled circle over them: in the east wall is a circular window containing four quatrefoils. There are three doorways at the west end with tympana (left to right) depicting the Annunciation, Our Lady seated in front of an adoring host, and the martyrdom of St Stephen. Between the pair of windows in the centre is a standing figure of St Stephen beneath a canopy.
Inside, the church is plastered and painted a pale yellow. The arcades and clerestory are quite tall which make for a generously scaled, lofty space. The nave has octagonal piers with double-chamfered arches. Over the nave is a five-sided roof, divided into square panels: the sanctuary roof is keeled and the aisle roofs are four-sided. The visual focus of the church is the east wall of the sanctuary, which has a rich display of arcading above which is a monstrance throne: the flat surfaces are all decorated with wall paintings, probably dating from the opening of the church or soon after, and possibly by N. H. J. Westlake, who had recently worked with Scoles on the latter’s church at Basingstoke. There are saints in the arcade with the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes (north) and the Last Supper (south) over. Above is an angelic host surrounding the monstrance throne and in the apex of the wall is the Dove of the Holy Spirit descending. Extensive use is made of marble in the Lady Chapel, sanctuary and shrine of the Sacred Heart (east end of the south aisle). The west bay of the nave is occupied by a glazed-in narthex with a repository on the south side and a gallery over.
Fixtures and fittings:
The church and attached presbytery were listed Grade II in 2016, following Taking Stock. List description at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1430963
Entry amended by AHP 8.1.2021
Architect: A. J. C. Scoles
Original Date: 1904
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II