W. D. Caröe in Edmonton

St Aldhelm Edmonton, London, N18 1PA

The parish of St Aldhelm in Edmonton, north London is a modest late-c19/early-c20 residential area of terraced streets with a rather fine church.

The church was built in 1903 to the designs of W. D. Caröe (1857–1938), and replaces an earlier temporary ‘tin tabernacle’ building. The present building is summed up as “a homely Arts and Crafts version of a basilican church, using free Perendicular detail“. In 1907 a vicarage – also by Caröe – was built immediately north of the church. The halls date from 1883 and 1907-8; architect currently unknown. (Cherry & Pevsner, 63).

This well-maintained church building comprises a chancel, north organ chamber, vestries and a sothh chapel, aisled nave with west gallery and bell turret (2 bells). The lower half of each nave pillar is panelled and painted, originally dark green. (Cherry & Pevsner, 423).

The arrtist Walter Percival Starmer (1871–1961) was employed (1947-8) to provide additional decoration in memory of the parish dead of the Second World War, specifically a deliciate scheme of stained glass and an imposing reredos painting of the Ascension. (Another ecclesiatical scheme by Starmer can be foubd at the churhc of  St-Jude-on-the-Hill in Hampstead, London; stained galss and mnurals).

Each of the internal doors is made to its own design with distinctive metalwork … as these examples demonatrate

The pulpit by W. R. Dale (n.d.) came  from the redundant (1951) London church of St Mary, Spital Sqaure. (Cherry & Pevsner, 63). While the brass lectern seems generic of the period the font seems as if it might be part of Caröe ‘s design not least becuase of the metalwork on the font’s cover.

The cost of the new church and vicarage was paid for out of the £36,000 proceeds of the sale of St. Michael Bassishaw church in the City of London (by Christopher Wren, 1679, demolished 1900), a portion of which had already paid for the construction of the nearby church and vicarage of St Michael, Bury Street in Edmonton (also by Caröe, 1901), now converted to secular residential use.

The pipe organ

The pipe organ in St Aldhelm’s was bulit and installed in 1905 by the short-lived north-London firm of Frederick Halliday (fl. 1905-13). Although an unremarkable instrument it is in good condition and quite adequate for accompanying the parish liturgy.

Sources

  • W. D. Caröe‘ in Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 21 November 2017.
  • ‘Edmonton: Churches’, in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, ed. T F T Baker and R B Pugh (London, 1976), pp. 181-187. British History Online. Online resource accessed 21 November 2017.
  • ‘Frederick Hallliday’ in Directory of British Organ Builders (British Institute of Organ Studies, 2017) Online resource, acccessed 21 November 2017.
  • ‘St Aldhelm’ in The Buildings of England. London 4: North by B. Cherry and N. Pevsner (London: Tale University Press, 2002), p. 63; p. 423.
  • St Aldhelm, Silver Street‘ in The National Pipe Organ Register. Online resource, accessed 21 November 2017.
  • St Aldhelm Upper Edmonton‘ in A Church near You (Archbishop’s Council, 2017), Online resource, accessed 21 November 2017.
  • St Michael Bassishaw‘ in Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 21 november 2017.
  • Walter Percival Starmer. Artist 1877-1961. Onine resource, accessed 21 November 2017

St Pancras Old Church …

St Pancras Old Church, Pancras Road, Camden Town, London NW1 1UL

I have recently had the opportunity to revisit the medieval church of  Old St Pancras to help out with the music for the main Sunday service there. This was a rather nostalgic visit since I was organist there immediately after my days as a post-graduate organ student at the Royal Academy of Music (1980-81), and I subsequently taught for a while at the parish school.

Old St Pancras church is modest in scale, comprising just an unaisled nave and chancel with a 19th-century tower on the south side. The history of Old St Pancras church is well documented, dating from at least Saxon times while some would claim that the site dates back to the days of the Roman occupation. Images and maps showing the building in its setting are plentiful.

There was a major rebuilding project in 1848 by the partnership of Alexander D. Gough (1804–71) and Robert Lewis Roumieu (1814–77). At this time, when the  old tower was relocated and redesigned, Continue reading “St Pancras Old Church …”

A Mission to Hackney

St Mary-of-Eton, Hackney Wick, London E9 5JA

Hackney Wick is an ancient settlement in the east of London, once owned by the Templars; ‘Wick’ is derived from a Saxon term denoting a small settlement. Hackney Wick is situated at the southern-most edge of Hackney Marshes, on the west bank of the tidal River Lea, close to the point where it empties into the Thames. Even today some large open tracts of land remain, now used mostly for sports and recreation, not least venues for the 2012 London Olympics.

Canalisation of the River Lea began in the late eighteenth century and from then until the later twentieth century the Hackney Wick waterside became an industrial zone taking advantage of the plentiful supplies of water and easy access to the London Docks; smelting works, paper mills paint making, and other chemical-based process were pioneered here. For example the earliest plastics, Parkesine and shellac, were first commercially produced in Hackney Wick, as too the first dry-cleaning agents and a number of synthetic dyes.

With industrialisation came a massive population increase, since in those days workers lived close to where they worked. Six thousand people lived in Hackney Wick by 1879. The nearby Rover Lea was heavily polluted by factory effluent and sewerage. In the 1880s the social reformer Charles Booth mapped Hackney Wick and noted that most of the the inhabitants were very poor and in extreme want.

At about this time Eton School opened an Anglican mission in Hackney Wick, where there had not previously been a church presence. This became the parish of St Mary of Etion and a fine Gothic-revival church was built (1890-92) to the design of  G. F. Bodley (1827–1907) & Thomas Garner (1839–1906), extended in 1911-12 by C. G. Hare (1875–1932).

From 1959 and throughout the 1960s the Eton MIssion developed a thriving youth club (the 59 Club), hosting up-and-coming bands such as such as Cliff Richard and the Shadows, seen here entertaining Princess Margaret when she visited the Eton Mission in 1962. Although the youth club is no more its motorcycle section is still-thriving as the ’59 Club’, as are the Eton Mission Rowing Club and several football and rugby clubs.

Eton School continued active support of the church until the 1970s. At about the same time all heavy industry began to leave the area. After many years of decline and social deprivation Hackney Wick is now experiencing rapid post-industrial regeneration driven by the arrival of high-tech and creative industries that are taking advantage of the former factory sites and now very pleasant waterside situations. A major and much-acclaimed restoration and redevelopment of the church and its adjacent property was concluded in 2015, providing housing and new church facilities, while retaining the original church intact.

In 1965 a fine two-manual organ was installed in the church at a cost of £3,500 by the firm of Grant, Degens and Rippin (1965), their opus 12. This instrument replaced the existing organ (1898) made by the firm of J. W. Walker. Very little of the old instrument was retained, apart from a few bass pipes. The new organ featured in an EMI recording of some of J. S. Bach’s chorale preludes played by the organist Simon Preston accompanied by the English Singers (ref. HQS 1131).

Even today, the instrument has a bold contemporary appearance; its stark  unenclosed pipework sits on a high platform at the south-west end of the nave. The console was originally placed on a platform opposite but following the full restoration of the organ (2015), during the church’s restoration and redevelopment, the console is now on the floor of the church at the south-east,