Building » Strawberry Hill – St Mary’s College Chapel

Strawberry Hill – St Mary’s College Chapel

Waldegrave Road, Twickenham, London TW1

A large, spacious and imposing college chapel from the 1960s, a late work by Sir Albert Richardson. Being raised above the library at ground level, it has a commanding presence amid the architecturally disparate buildings flanking the open space between the chapel and the road. The style is somewhat austere and takes its cue from Albi Cathedral in southern France, a building which exercised a powerful influential on various church architects from the second quarter of the nineteenth century who were seeking to achieve a wide, unencumbered interior. There is notable, richly coloured, semi-abstract stained glass by Gabriel Loire of Chartres.

The site was originally developed by Horace Walpole, who built his famous, pioneering Gothic Revival mansion here (to the north of the college buildings). It became a teachers’ training college around 1926 (it is now St Mary’s University College, Twickenham) with new buildings – plain Tudor ranges – by Pugin & Pugin. Further expansion took place in the early 1960s as the intake of students grew (1,000 in 1964). The chapel is part of these works. All the buildings from this phase were by Sir Albert Richardson, Houfe & Partners. Mass was first celebrated in the chapel on 15 August 1963. In 1969 the sanctuary was reordered.


Built in 1962-63 to designs by Sir Albert Richardson, Houfe & Partners, the chapel is a mid-twentieth-century reinterpretation of Albi Cathedral. Like that building, it is tall, has internal buttresses (hence sheer outside walls) which are pierced by passage aisles. Built of yellowy brown brick, there are five bays to the nave and two to the sanctuary. There is no structural differentiation externally and each bay has a pair of tall windows with trefoil-cusped heads. The main entrance is via a pair of staircases at the west end into a narthex; there is also a semi-circular glazed stair into the north-west bay of the sanctuary.

Internally the chapel is wide, faced with bare brick and has internal buttresses which are pierced by passage aisles at ground-floor level. At the entrance to the sanctuary is a broad, utterly plain pointed arch. A gallery (with a timber and clear-glazed front) runs along the north and south sides of the nave through piercings in the buttresses and into the first bay of the sanctuary. At the west end there is a wide gallery: in the centre of this a westward projection over the narthex houses organ pipes on the north and south sides, and a large five-light west window. At the east end the sanctuary is approached by a series of five steps with a further two up to the high altar dais. The roofs are quite low-pitched and have arch-braces. There is no east window.


  • The stained glass, in which the dominant colours are rich blues and reds has an important impact on the character of the interior, softening and darkening what would otherwise by a very bright space; it is by Gabriel Loire of Chartres and has semi-abstract representations of the Mysteries of the Rosary.  
  • There is a large painting on boards on the east wall of the sanctuary. In the centre are representations of the Trinity, flanked by a series of smaller paintings on either side. This is not of particular quality and is typical of such work put up in many churches in the late 1950s and the 1960s.
  • Good, carved wooden Stations of the Cross are placed in the aisles. 
  • On the staircase north of the chancel are windows bearing reused stained glass dated 1901 and representing four scenes from the Road to Calvary to the Assumption of the Virgin. 
  • In the sanctuary are two near-white limestone altars. 
  • The seating consists of sturdy open-backed benches.
Heritage Details

Architect: Sir Albert Richardson, Houfe & Partners

Original Date: 1963

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed