Having previously written about the Shrine of Our Lady of Willesden and its connection with Sir Thomas More and his family, I was very happy recently to have the opportunity to visit Chelsea (where More lived at the end of his life) to play for a Sunday mass at the church which – since his canonisation in 1935 – bears More’s name.
The site in Upper Cheyne Walk was formerly occupied by Orange House, one of a terrace of eleven houses (c.1710), of which the other ten remain. Orange House was the location (1876–82) of workshops belonging to the well-known ‘Arts and Crafts’ potter and ceramic artist William de Morgan (1839–1917). The present building was consecrated in 1905, built to the Renaissance-style design of Edward Goldie (1856–1921).
At the west end of the church is an organ gallery and pipe organ that replaces an earlier instrument destroyed by aerial bombing during the Second World War. The present instrument was made by G. M. Holditch (1816–96) for a church in High Wycombe. It was described there as having an “elegant case of ebonised wood, generously gilded on moulding and ornamentation.” (NPOR). Since then that case has largely been lost and the instrument been much adapted by unknown hands. Although now rather unattractive in appearance this instrument is nonetheless well suited to congregational accompaniment.
- ‘Chelsea‘. A History of the County of Middlesex, Volume 12 (British History Online). Online resource accessed 28 November 2019
- ‘Edward Goldie‘, Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 28 November 2019
- ‘Middlesex Chelsea, Our Most Holy Redeemer & St. Thomas More, 7 Cheyne Row [D02903]‘. National Pipe Organ Register. Online resource, accessed 28 November 2019
- ‘RC Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer & St Thomas More, parish website, accessed 28 Novermber 2019
- ‘Thomas More‘, Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 28 November 2019
- ‘William de Morgan‘, Wikipedia. Online resource, accessed 28 November 2019