High Road, Wembley HA9
A handsome building of the mid-1950s with a broad west tower and a striking neoclassical triple-domed interior clearly influenced by the work of Sir John Soane.
Wembley Catholics worshipped in Harlesden until a convent chapel from Harley Place (near Baker Street), was re-erected in 1901 at Wembley Green. The small brick chapel, dedicated to St. Joseph, was replaced in 1957 by the present large church, designed by Reynolds & Scott to seat 680.
The church is in a free Classical style, influenced by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in the treatment and placing of the broad west tower and by Sir John Soane in the internal treatment. The external walls are faced with brown brick, and the roof is covered in natural slate. The church is not orientated; the east end lies to the south. The plan comprises a (liturgical) west tower with narthex beneath, a wide nave with processional aisles off which open a baptistery, a large side chapel, confessionals and sacristies, and a short sanctuary with semi-circular apse. The west tower with its hipped roof is the full width of nave. The central doorway and a long round-arched window above are set in a panel of artificial stone ashlar which fills the centre of the front. Beneath the eaves is the belfry stage, marked by a row of small arched openings. The nave itself is covered with a shallow pitched roof and has side elevations of three wide bays, of which the first and third are carried up as transepts with hipped roofs. In the centre bays the aisle is covered by a flat roof at low level with three large windows above.
The interior is a striking exercise in geometry and the use of round arches. The nave is covered by three large pendentive domes of the type favoured by Soane. At the west and east ends are tall round-arched openings to the gallery over the narthex and the sanctuary. The first and third bays of the nave have similar openings to the aisle spaces. In the central bays of the nave are low triple arcades of round arches to the aisles with triple windows in the clerestory wall above. These central sections of the side aisles have flat ceilings. Off the centre of the north aisle is a rectangular side chapel. The sanctuary has a segmental ceiling with twin round arches under triple windows on each side. The eastern apse is blind. The east end has been reordered and a simple modern stone altar is now set at the front of the sanctuary area. The fittings of the church are in general less striking than the architecture.
The church was listed Grade II in 2016, following Taking Stock. List description at https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1431030
Architect: Reynolds & Scott
Original Date: 1957
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II