High Road, London N15
A large and conspicuous red brick church with rough stone dressings, in a personal version of the late Romanesque style, designed by the eclectic and idiosyncratic architect Benedict Williamson, before he became a priest. The broad, arched interior is plainly decorated but the sanctuary has rich marble fittings and mosaic decoration. The church and adjoining contemporary presbytery and school form an attractive and complementary group, prominent in the street scene and making an important and positive contribution to the conservation area.
The Jesuits established themselves in Stamford Hill in the early 1890s and built a temporary church, which opened in 1892 (the VCH says 1896). According to the VCH, this early church was designed by Benedict Williamson, which would make it an early church design by Williamson, who was received into the Catholic Church in 1896. The present church was begun in 1902, also from designs by Williamson (who became a priest in 1909). Work on the sanctuary and chapels was completed by 1906, the nave and west towers were finished in 1911. The church is a relatively early design by Williamson and is in the Transitional Romanesque-Gothic style, inspired by churches of the Rhineland, rather than the round-arched basilican style normally associated with his churches. Besides the church the site originally contained a four-storey presbytery and a Jesuit school (which was attended by the filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and the future Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster). The school moved to Enfield in 1968 but some of the buildings survive.
The west end of the church was apparently damaged in the Second World War, but later restored. In the early 1960s a redundant cinema opposite the church was acquired and rebuilt as a parish hall (Loyola Hall). The architects were F. G. Broadbent & Partners.
The parish continues to be served by the Society of Jesus.
See list description below. This incorrectly dates the church to 1894-1902 (those dates relate to the predecessor, temporary church) and attributes the church to ‘Fr’ Benedict Williamson, although Williamson had not been ordained when he designed the church.
The church is not orientated; the liturgical west front faces east. Pevsner describes the style of the building as ‘Transitional Gothic of Spanish inspiration’. One unusual feature of the external detailing is that the corbel tables and the surrounds to the windows are of rock-faced stonework, which gives an oddly primitive effect. Internally, the walls are plastered and painted. The floor coverings are a mixture of terrazzo and black and white marble. The unmoulded arches of the nave arcades are carried on square piers with shafted responds and carved cushion capitals. Transverse arches span across the aisles from these piers. At the west end of the nave is a gallery over the entrance vestibule with a large organ. The east end is a complex composition, with a raised sanctuary enclosed by elaborate marble rails, side chapels and a rear passage behind the high altar. The original richly-decorated marble altar and reredos are almost swamped by their setting of ceramic and gilded mosaics, covering the sanctuary walls to full-height, which was completed by 1923. There is also some richly coloured stained glass in the sanctuary and south aisle by Paul Woodroffe, the latter dated 1915. A window in the north aisle depicting two saints is signed A. Belmet, Grenoble, 1906. The pews are modern open-backed benches.
1894-1902 by Fr Benedict Williamson. Cruciform church with twin west towers, on very large scale. Red brick with white stone dressings, tiled roof with stone corbelled cornice. Flying buttresses over aisle roofs. Triple west portal with reliefs in tympana, Christ in Majesty in centre. Row of windows above, rose window over this and blank arcading on top. Very tall towers of 3 stages above this, with openings varying although symmetry little impaired. Pyramidal tiled roofs. South tower has staircase turret. Inside 4-bay nave with barrelled roof as has 2-bay chancel. Groin vault at crossing. Sanctuary covered with inlay and mosaics of figures of saints. Simple and dignified church in late C12 transitional style.
Listing NGR: TQ3359588197
Architect: Benedict Williamson
Original Date: 1911
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II