Hillside Road, Streatham Hill, London SW2
A handsome Edwardian church, one of many paid for by Miss Frances Ellis, its west front distinguished by a pediment and large Diocletian window. The building is only a small portion of that originally proposed; it was significantly but sensitively adapted in 1990, and contains some furnishings of note.
The church began life as the Tulse Hill Catholic Mission, the first Mass being said on 27 July 1906. The site, church and presbytery were the gift of Miss Frances Ellis, and the architect was Clement Jackson. The site was acquired from the Artizans’, Labourers’ and General Dwellings Company, developers of the adjoining Leigham Court estate, which was then approaching completion. The architect M. E. T. Jackson was surveyor to the company; it is not clear whether he and Clement Jackson were related. As built, the church consisted of a short aisleless nave only. Judging from the plans hanging on the wall in the presbytery, this was just part of a much larger intended church in a Edwardian Arts and Crafts version free Classical style. As can be seen from the drawing, the church was built on a steeply-sloping site, and it was realised as early as 1912 that it had been built with inadequate footings. Clement’s ambitious plans were never fully realised, and instead the church developed in a more modest and piecemeal way. A parish hall was built at the bottom of the garden in 1935 (replaced in 1967). A short chancel was added and new high altar installed by Fr Nugent in 1937. In 1960 a gallery was built at the west end of the nave. In 1989-90 the church was underpinned with 10 ft deep concrete foundations, by Southern Dry Wall Construction, and the church reordered and adapted under the direction of Derek Phillips, architect (who also worked at St Matthew, West Norwood, qv). Phillips’ work at Streatham Hill included a new porch at the (ritual) west end, internal redecoration and reordering and new sacristies. New stained glass was provided, by Andrew Taylor of Catford. The restored church was consecrated by Archbishop Bowen on 20 July 1990.
As built, this is a small church of 1906, with additions of 1937 and 1990. It is built on a steeply sloping site. The original intention of the architect, Clement Jackson, was for a more substantial Edwardian free Classical design, with aisles, a large sanctuary, domed side chapels and a canted east end. However, only the nave was built, along with the adjacent presbytery, an attractive design with pebbledash walls, sash windows (mostly paired) and a hipped slate roof.
The church was originally faced in London stock brick, but was pebbledashed after the last war and given its present cream painted finish at the time of the 1990 restoration. The roof is of slate. The west front has a large Diocletian window and an open pediment with projecting timber eaves; set back and slightly wider are the remaining two of the nave, repeating the eaves detail. Below, the main entrance narthex is an addition of 1990, with a lean-to slate roof and projecting gabled entrance with doors containing etched glass designs and with stained glass in the flanking panels, by Andrew Taylor (1990). From the narthex, glass doors lead into the main body of the church, which consists of a short and wide aisleless nave of three bays, almost square on plan, with a king-post roof. There are no aisles. The lower half of the nave walls are plastered and painted, the upper half are of exposed brick. A wide chancel arch with central keystone gives on to a one-bay sanctuary (added in 1937), side-lit and square-ended, and with plastered and white painted walls. Smaller arches on either side frame side altars/shrines. There is a western gallery, added in 1960. Below this, a baptistery (now Lady Chapel) gives off the north side.
The forward altar incorporates material from the former high altar of 1937; it is of polished Cornish granite and stands on four columnar supports. Behind, on the east wall, is a fine Comperesque crucifix and ‘English altar’ backing, with curtains and riddel posts topped with gilded angels. Segmental arches give off to left and right, with painted wooden statues of Our Lady and St John, said by Evinson to be seventeenth century Netherlandish work, and possibly acquired by the wealthy convert Fr Nugent in the 1930s. The east windows (Good Shepherd and St Simon and St Jude) are by Andrew Taylor, 1990. Set into the floor in front of the sanctuary is a circular slate design recording the consecration of the church in 1990. The stained glass in the nave is also by Andrew Taylor. The nave also holds a cast bas-relief plaque of St Martin of Tours, Gillish in character and probably of the 1920s, a statue of St Joseph by Philip Clark, Stations of the Cross by Anton Dupre (installed in 1944). The wrought iron candelabra (along with the external gates and railings) are c1990, by Tim Hallet of Hale. The seating consists of modern upholstered individual chairs.
Amended by AHP 06.02.2021
Architect: C. Jackson; D. Phillips
Original Date: 1906
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed