Building » Wapping – St Patrick

Wapping – St Patrick

Green Bank, London E1

An elegant classical church by F. W. Tasker with several furnishings of note, including an altar said to have come from the first London Oratory.

The mission was founded in 1871 from the mission in Commercial Road (qv). The site of a former workhouse was acquired for £7,250, and a church built in 1877-79. The architect was Francis William Tasker (1848-1904), and the builder Mr Nightingale. The tender for the church was £4,000 and for the presbytery £1,000. The choice of the classical style may have been due to Cardinal Manning who was a family friend of Tasker. The church was opened on 15 August 1879. The original congregation mainly comprised Irish dockworkers – hence the dedication to St Patrick.

Charles Willock Dawes (not Willcock as in Pevsner), who died in 1899, and his wife Mary (died 1896) were the benefactors for the church and schools. They also paid for the addition of a narthex, two further nave bays, and some furnishings in 1892. The completed church was reopened on 9 June 1892 and consecrated on 22 May 1902.

The exterior of the church was restored in 1987-88 by Simon Crosse and Roger Jorgenson of Feilden & Mawson. At some point a mural by P. Greenwood high up on the east wall was painted over, and a rood beam and the pulpit removed (shown in a drawing illustrated in Evinson). The pediment over the reredos has also been removed. 


The list description is quite brief, especially in regard to the interior and its furnishings (see below).

The church was built in 1877-79 and enlarged to the west in 1892. The plan is rectangular with a semicircular baptistery projection at the northwest. The east gable has a small iron-frame bellcote. Originally, entrances at the northwest and west led into the narthex. A partition has been inserted which encloses a square porch at the northwest, while the rest of the narthex is used as a repository, meeting space and ‘back chapel’. (At the time of Evinson’s visit in c.1998 it was fitted out as a weekday chapel.) It contains two marble plaques commemorating the donors and recording the main dates of the church.

The interior is six bays in length, of which the eastern two accommodate the sanctuary with Lady Chapel and organ. The coffered timber wagon roof over the nave is unpainted, while its continuation over the sanctuary is painted white with Christian symbols. The nave is divided from the flat-ceiled aisles by giant Ionic columns of Bath stone, which in the sanctuary also have swags. (The columns in the sanctuary are not Corinthian as described in The Buildings of England).

The west end has a large circular window – typical for Tasker- whose upper curve is echoed in the profile of the wagon roof. There is a modern green marble plaque listing all the priests serving the mission and the parish, as well as the predecessor chapel in Virginia Street, the ancestor of the parish in Commercial Road (qv) and of the German church (qv). An Art Nouveau bronze plaque by Henry Price (1900) in a marble surround is a memorial to the deceased staff and pupils of St Patrick’s School.

Near the entrance at the northwest is the semicircular baptistery with wrought-iron rails around the octagonal stone font. Beside it is a large, seated St Peter by Mayer of Munich in front of a plaque to Bertrand Ward Davies, Lieutenant in the Suffolk Regiment (died 1916). A pedimented timber confessional in the north side is placed directly opposite an identical one at the south. Further east is a shrine to St Joseph with two Ionic pilasters with a straight entablature framing a statue of the saint.

The Lady Chapel at the northeast is screened to two sides with a classical timber screen. The Lady altar is said to come from the first London Oratory in King William Street. The altar frontal is painted with the Marian monogram with swirling floral decoration. The altar painting of the Virgin and Child, said to be Spanish, is framed by a pediment on four Corinthian half-columns. Above is a semicircular mural depicting the Annunciation (by P. Greenwood).

The sanctuary’s altar painting, also by P. Greenwood, depicts the Crucifixion (c.1892). It is flanked by Corinthian pilasters but the original pediment has been removed. The high altar of 1879 is of coloured marbles. The wrought iron altar rails survive between the easternmost pair of Ionic columns. The sanctuary now extends forward of them and the modern timber forward altar and lectern are placed in front of the rails.

The space at the southeast, with timber screens similar to those at the Lady Chapel, is occupied by the organ (Gray & Davidson) on an elevated level. Behind is another semicircular mural by P. Greenwood, depicting St Cecilia. In front of the timber screen is a statue of the Sacred Heart on a marble pedestal similar to the high altar. The south aisle has a statue of St Patrick by Mayer, a large crucifix by Raffl of Paris and a large pieta with rails of alabaster and iron (by Jones & Willis) in memory of Rev. Francis Cotter Beckley (1843-1908), a former mission priest. The Stations are framed reliefs with gables. The floor is woodblock in herringbone pattern; this and the benches appear to be modern.

List description


1879. Architect, Tasker. Narthex added 1892. Yellow stock brick with pedimented gable ends with stone cornice. Classical design, high paired rectangular windows above stone band. Narthex has 5 arches. Panelled doors and wrought iron entrance gates. Interior has large Ionic columns, nave with timber wagon roof.

Listing NGR: TQ3470780123

Heritage Details

Architect: F. W. Tasker

Original Date: 1879

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II