High Road, Harrow Weald, Middlesex HA3
St Joseph’s is of special interest for the quality of its design and craftsmanship and as a fine example of a late Arts and Crafts style church. The church contains both original and recent fixtures and fittings of artistic note.
St Joseph’s was built to serve the newly established and rapidly expanding settlement of Wealdstone. Harrow and Wealdstone Railway Station, originally known as Harrow Station, was opened by the London and Birmingham Railway Company in July 1837 and provided the impetus for development, although the settlement initially grew quite slowly. By 1897, development had begun to extend northwards along the High Street/High Road and there was further rapid expansion at the turn of the century with the St Joseph’s site falling within the settlement boundary for the first time. Further development was encouraged by the arrival of the Bakerloo line in 1917.
Catholic Mass was held in the public hall at Wealdstone from 1892, and a mission was established in 1899. From 1901 this was served by the Salvatorians (Society of the Divine Saviour) and a temporary church was built in 1905 following the purchase of the present site. This was replaced by a tin church in 1906-07. The Ordnance Survey map of 1916 shows the early church as well as a school and presbytery on the site.
The present church opened in 1931 and was built to serve a congregation which had rapidly outgrown the tin building (which was demolished in1954). It was built from designs by Adrian Gilbert Scott (1882-1963). Since it was built there have been some internal alterations and reordering, with some new furnishings of high quality. Two single-storey extensions were added to the north and south in 1991, when the church was reordered by Richard Hurley. Textile hangings from the Hurley reordering were removed when the dramatic back-lit glazed reredos by Mathew Lloyd-Winder was installed in 2005-06.
St Joseph’s Catholic Church, 1929-31 by Adrian Gilbert Scott in a broadly Arts & Crafts style although with Gothic revival influences.
MATERIALS: Snecked Cotswold stone with tile roofs
PLAN: Oriented with altar to the west. Nave with pitched roof, deep lean-to aisles with projecting confessionals, east tower, chapels to north-west and south-west, sacristy to north-west, baptistery to north-east. 1990s single storey extensions to north and south.
EXTERIOR: Nave with a pitched roof, lit by five-light leaded clerestory windows. Two large dormers, with half-hipped roofs and decorative tall traceried windows with leaded lights (glazing throughout is largely plain leaded), project through the broad sweep of the lean-to aisle roofs. Aisles with shallow buttresses, lit by two-light traceried windows, with projecting polygonal confessionals with loophole windows. Confessional parapets rise above the aisle roof line. Complimentary extensions with parapets to the east are not original to scheme but date to 1991 reordering. That to the north provides an entrance to the church; the southern houses the gift shop. North aisle has the addition of a polygonal baptistery to the east. Prominent east tower with square stair turret to north with loop-hole windows and hipped roof. Clasping corner buttresses, central tall traceried windows in the north and south elevation of a similar form to the dormer windows. Modest two-light belfry louvre under a square hood-mould. Crenellated parapet. Dramatic east elevation to the tower flanking the High Road with an elegant, tall pointed and moulded arch framing the main east door. Carved crossed decorate the piers. Wooden panelled double door with curving corners, echoed in the decorative and moulded surround which projects to support a carved crucifixion flanked by saints. Further statuary embellishes the clasping buttresses. There is a single traceried window to the belfry. West elevation of the chancel is plain with a half-hipped roof but the massing and roof lines are of interest here. Adjoining single storey sacristy to north-west with rectangular leaded lights. Late C20 vestry and early C20 presbytery linked to the west but not inspected and not included in the listing.
INTERIOR: Internally rendered and painted white with piers and arches in stone for contrast. Nave and chancel roofs are arched and plastered with exposed moulded wooden tie beams to the nave. Aisle roofs are close ribbed and boarded. Nave arcades have tall, pointed arches rising from moulded piers with low complimentary arcades to the outer aisles. Both inner and outer aisles are formed with rounded arches. Carved crosses to the piers are also found internally. Flooring is a mixture of wood block and stone. Mid-C20 alterations included the installation of pews, the addition of an organ to the original gallery and the removal of the pulpit and altar rails. A new altar, lectern and altar steps were installed as part of the reordering of 1991 and the pulpit was re-located towards the front of the church. The use of colour is limited and is most notably provided by the early-C21 glazed panel to the chancel. Priests sacristy and other offices to the north-west with impressive single and double panelled doors with decorative surrounds and brass fittings. North-east stair turret, containing spiral stone staircase, provides access to the organ gallery and to the tower which has a hipped boarded roof and contains a single bell.
FIXTURES AND FITTINGS: Original pulpit with copper cover although repositioned in 1991. South Chapel Annunciation window is by Nuttgens. Mid-C20 wooden bench pews, also organ, which was not part of the original scheme. Altar and lectern by Angela Godfrey as part of the 1991 reordering. Dramatic glazed reredos of Christ and the cross by Mathew Lloyd-Winder, installed 2005-6, is particularly noteworthy.
HISTORY: St Joseph’s was designed in 1929 by the architect Adrian Gilbert Scott (1882-1963) who was the brother of the perhaps better known Giles Gilbert Scott. Adrian Gilbert Scott is, however, a recognised architect in his own right. He was articled to Temple Moore, his father’s former pupil and assisted his brother on a number of early C20 domestic projects before serving in the Royal Engineers during the First World War when he was awarded the Military Cross. Although his major design was perhaps the Anglican Cathedral in Cairo, the majority of his commissions were for the Roman Catholic Church. St Joseph’s was built to serve the newly established and rapidly expanding settlement of Wealdstone. Harrow & Wealdstone Railway Station, originally known as Harrow Station, was opened by the London and Birmingham Railway Company in July 1837 and provided the impetus for development although the settlement initially grew quite slowly. By 1897, development had begun to extend northwards along the High Street/High Road and there was further rapid expansion at the turn of the century with the St Joseph’s site falling within the settlement boundary for the first time. Further development was encouraged by the arrival of the Bakerloo line in 1917. Catholic mass was held in the public hall at Wealdstone from 1892 with a formal mission established in 1899. A temporary church was built in 1905 following the purchase of the present site by the Salvatorians (the Society of the Divine Saviour; an international Roman Catholic religious community). This was replaced by a tin church in 1906/7 a photograph of which is reproduced by Wilkins (1976, 29). The Ordnance Survey map of 1916 shows the early church as well as a school and presbytery on the site. The present church, which opened in 1931, was built to serve a congregation which had rapidly outgrown the tin building. Since built there have been some internal additions, alterations and reordering. Externally two single storey extensions of 1991 have been added to the north and south. There is now an adjoining Salvatorian College.
SOURCES: H.M.Wilkins, 1976, The Wealdstone Scene, p29 St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Wealdstone, Middlesex, original plans and elevations by Adrian Gilbert Scott, 1929 http://www.rcdow.org.uk/wealdstone/ St Joseph’s website
SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: St Joseph’s church was built in 1929-31 to the design of Adrian Gilbert Scott in a broadly Arts & Crafts style but with Gothic revival references. The massing and composition of the exterior is largely Arts & Crafts in influence, particularly in the contrast between the high quality snecked masonry and the roofscape with its broad sweeping nave and aisle roofs interrupted by half-hipped dormers providing interest. The tower is perhaps more of the Gothic revival in its composition although the treatment and statuary of the east elevation is again of the Arts & Crafts style. The interior appears, at first glance, to be rather simple in its design and monochrome in colour contrasting the plaster walls and ceilings with stone for architectural details. However, this impression belies the complexity of the design which is accomplished in its elegant proportions and composition. St Joseph’s is considered of special interest for the quality of its design and craftsmanship and as a fine example of a late Arts and Crafts style church.
Book Reference – Author: HM Wilkins – Title: The Wealdstone Scene – Date: 1976 – Page References: 29
National Grid Reference: TQ 15193 90314
Architect: A. G. Scott
Original Date: 1931
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II