Building » Willesden Green – St Mary Magdalen

Willesden Green – St Mary Magdalen

Peter Avenue, London NW10

A modernist church of the 1930s, whose external appearance has been considerably altered in recent years by the addition of a new pitched roof.  The wide uncluttered interior is typical of its date.

Willesden Green developed after the arrival of the Metropolitan Railway in 1879 and a Catholic mission was established in 1901, initially served from Our Lady of Willesden.  In 1903 the care of the mission was entrusted to The Diocesan Missioners of Our Lady of Compassion, who established themselves in a large house in Park Avenue where rooms were made into a chapel. In 1906, a site was purchased in Linacre Road and a temporary hall/chapel was built in 1907.  The Missioners relinquished care of the parish in 1929 and in 1938 a new church and presbytery were built to the designs of Sterrett, Glover & Diplock. The original dedication of Our Lady of Compassion was changed to St Mary Magdalen in 1939. Both church and presbytery were in a modern style with flat roofs. The original sanctuary fittings were by Whitehead & Sons.  The church was consecrated in 1958 and the church was then partly refurnished with new benches and a baldacchino over the altar.  The old church hall was demolished in 1967.  The sanctuary walls were part lined with marble in 1971 and coloured glass in abstract patterns (by Shades of Light) was inserted into the nave windows.  Some time later in the 1970s, the sanctuary was reordered with a new altar. The original flat roof of the church proved unsatisfactory; it was renewed in 1981 and finally replaced with a pitched roof in 2002.  The architect for this work was Michael Trogal.


The church is in a simple modern style (and looked more typical of its 1930s date before the pitched roof was added in 2002).  The building comprises a nave and short sanctuary under a continuous pitched roof, with low flat-roofed passage aisles and a northwest tower. The external walls are faced with red brick laid in Flemish bond, with dressings and window surrounds of artificial stone dressings and roof coverings of artificial slate. The building is not conventionally orientated; the east end lies to the south. The (liturgical) west front has a stone centre with three long straight-headed windows above the main doorway. On the south side is the blind end of the low side aisle, on the north is a link to the tower.  This is of brick, rectangular on plan, and rises sheer to the bell stage, which is expressed by horizontal slits on each face.  A large stone cross is set prominently into the north face towards Peter Avenue. On the side elevations, the aisles have horizontal rectangular windows; the north aisle has several small modern additions.  Above the aisles on each side are seven tall rectangular windows evenly spaced in the nave clerestory.  The sanctuary is narrower than the nave, with one similar window on each side and a blind east wall.

Heritage Details

Architect: Sterrett, Glover and Diplock

Original Date: 1938

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed