Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, London SE11
A red brick Gothic church of distinctive and original design, its saddleback tower a prominent feature in the Vauxhall conservation area. Built at the turn of the twentieth century, it is one of several churches in the archdiocese designed by Frederick Walters, and is more richly decorated and fitted out than most. Fr (Bishop) Brown was the chief driving force behind the building of the church; he is buried in the Requiem Chapel. The presbytery dates from the early nineteenth-century; its design is attributed to J. M. Gandy, a pupil of Sir John Soane.
Mass was said in Vauxhall from 1886 in the school in Vauxhall Walk and from 1892 in the new school in Harleyford Walk. A one-acre site in Upper Kennington Lane (now Kennington Lane) was acquired in 1891; at that time it included four houses, one of which, a fine Regency house attributed to J. M. Gandy, a pupil of Sir John Soane, became the priest’s house. The present church was built at the initiative of Fr (later Bishop) William Brown, from designs by Frederick Walters. The foundation stone was laid in November 1900 and the church was formally opened by Bishop Bourne in September 1903. The side chapel, parish hall and tower were not completed until 1906-07. The church was built at a cost of about £13,000 by Goddard & Sons of Dorking, and was capable of seating 600.
The church was designed with economy in mind, with fitting out and embellishment following as funds allowed. The high altar dates from 1903, but the rood, pulpit and altar rails were added in 1906, from designs by Walters. The organ, built by J. W. Walker and Son, was completed in 1905. The debts were paid off and the church consecrated in March 1911. The Lady Chapel altar dates from the same year and its windows, by Westlake, were added in 1912. The Sacred Heart altar was added in 1919, as were the nave statues of the Virgin and Child, pieta, St Joseph and St Anthony, all designed by Walters. The altar and furnishings in the Requiem Chapel, which gives off the north aisle, were added in 1928.
Bishop Brown was in the parish for more than sixty years and saw through the building and the embellishment of the church; he died in 1951, and is buried in the Requiem Chapel. In 1982 a marble forward altar was added and the sanctuary reordered by Stanley Kerr Bate, the old high altar being left in situ.
The list entry (below) is brief and gives little idea of the richness and quality of the internal furnishings, which are listed above. Neither does it mention the nave roof, which is of hammer-beam type, its softwood trusses resting on stone corbels.
1903-7 by F A Walters. Dark red brick church with slated roofs in early English style with projecting buttresses giving emphasis. Nave and aisles in one (no clerestory), low west narthex, short transepts, lower 2-bay chancel with short, low aisles. (The church is aligned north-south but the directions given here are ritual). Tall, saddleback north-west tower of 4 stages, all with paired lancets including large bell openings in top stage, and 3 stepped lancets in gable. Spacious interior has 5-bay nave with narrow aisles divided into one-bay sections. Large chapel extension behind wrought iron screen from north aisle. Carved stone octagonal pulpit, with sounding- board, and low arcaded wall before chancel steps. Whole chancel covered with bright stencil patterns. Carved and painted reredos. Rood figures hung from roof and resting on beam – there is no screen.
Presbytery (St Anne’s House)
Attributed to J M Gandy. Early C19 in Soanian style. Front of 3 storeys, attic and basement, possibly concealing older core. Stucco with cornice and parapet, and high side walls to slated mansard with dormer. Wide left bay has 2-storey projecting round bow, with tripartite windows and entablatures on both floors with paterae and fret decoration, set in full height round-arched recess which shapes the top of second floor window. Narrower right bay has segment-headed second floor window to match. Patterned cast iron balconies to bow. Six steps to door under deep bracketed hood. Modified entablature over has pediment with acroteria. Plain wrought iron hand and area railings. Listing NGR: TQ3062078028
Architect: F.A. Walters
Original Date: 1900
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II