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Church of St Mary of the Angels (Roman Catholic)

A Grade II* Listed Building in Bayswater, Westminster

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Latitude: 51.5158 / 51°30'56"N

Longitude: -0.1974 / 0°11'50"W

OS Eastings: 525173

OS Northings: 181195

OS Grid: TQ251811

Mapcode National: GBR C8.8WG

Mapcode Global: VHGQY.J5H9

Plus Code: 9C3XGR83+82

Entry Name: Church of St Mary of the Angels (Roman Catholic)

Listing Date: 5 February 1970

Last Amended: 19 October 2016

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1223494

English Heritage Legacy ID: 419231

Location: Bayswater, Westminster, London, W2

County: Westminster

Electoral Ward/Division: Bayswater

Built-Up Area: City of Westminster

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Stephen Paddington

Church of England Diocese: London

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St Mary of the Angels Roman Catholic Church in Bayswater, of 1851 to original designs by Thomas Meyer, completed in 1857 by Henry Clutton, with additions by JF Bentley.


St Mary of the Angels is a large stone-built Roman Catholic church, occupying a corner site on Moorhouse Road. The church was begun in 1851 to original designs by Thomas Meyer, but only partially completed. Building resumed in 1857 under the supervision of Henry Clutton. Outer aisles, side chapels and other additions were added by JF Bentley between 1869 and 1887.

MATERIALS: the church is of coursed ragstone with ashlar dressings under a slate roof.

PLAN: the church is conventionally oriented. It comprises a narrow seven-bay nave with clerestory and double aisles to the N and S and a tower to the SW. The sanctuary is square-ended and flanked by two side chapels to the N and one to the S. Sacristies are to the SE.

EXTERIOR: the church is in the Geometric Gothic-Revival style and is dominated by a robust heavily buttressed four-stage tower (belfry stage added c1920). The roofs are double pitched over the nave and aisles, the chancel demarcated by a lower ridge line embellished by cresting. There is a diminished pyramidal roof over the tower, covered in lead. The W front has a five-light traceried window, over a pointed-arched entrance flanked by cusped lancets. The aisles are lit by lancets, and the clerestory has spheric triangles characterised by a variety of tracery patterns. To the E, the windows are in the Decorated style, the main E window having five lights. The tower has pointed arched openings to its first stage, tall twin light Geometric windows to the second stage, intricate traceried circular windows to the third stage and louvred cusped lancets in pairs to the belfry. There are some carved gargoyle spouts to the sacristy, which terminates the S aisle and is lower, lit by paired lancets.

INTERIOR: the six-bay nave is unusually tall and narrow, giving onto double aisles to the N and S; the inner arcades are of clustered limestone columns with moulded heads; the N outer aisle has an arcade of robust circular columns with simple foliated capitals, alternated with deep rectangular piers. The arcade to the S outer aisle is similar but columns have plain capitals and the piers are embellished with slender paired shafts. The nave is covered by a waggon roof of stained timber, divided into panels by timber ribs, and having a deep double-cavetto cornice spanned by notched beams over pierced braces. The inner aisle roofs have flat ceilings supported on pierced arch braces; the N outer aisle has simple applied panelling, and there is a ribbed vaulted ceiling over the S outer aisle.

• The former baptistery at the W end of the outer N aisle has iron railings and gates of 1868 by Bentley in a C12 style. In the spandrel of the two arches is a statue of St John the Baptist.
• The former mortuary chapel of the Holy Souls in the base of the tower is now partly a repository and also houses a wheelchair lift.
• The split organ on the W gallery is the original organ of 1857 by William Hill & Son.
• The N aisle has a marble and alabaster altar dedicated to St Joseph, complete with reredos. It was designed by Bentley in 1874 and the reredos and frontal were painted by Westlake.
• Between the two N aisles is a sculptural group of St John and the Virgin Mary sculpted by Mr Kirk, the brother of Fr Kirk OSC.
• Further E in the outer N aisle is the Sacred Heart altar of marble and alabaster with mosaics of the Virgin Mary flanked by two saints.
• At the E end of the outer N aisle is the St Charles Borromeo Chapel, added by Bentley in 1887. The altar dates from 1903 (F W Tasker), with a reredos by Hardman & Powell which includes a painting of St Charles. Set into the N wall is an oak cupboard by Bentley for the chasuble of St Charles.
• The chapel at the E end of the inner N aisle was originally the Chapel of St Charles and in 1887 became the Chapel of the Holy Ghost. The mosaic floor, the metal side screens and the alabaster altar with marble panels date from 1912 (George Powell). A statue of Our Lady stands on the altar.
• A square alabaster and marble font stands just W of the former Chapel of the Holy Ghost, of the same design as the forward altar and lectern and presumably from the same reordering scheme.
• A crucifix hangs in front of the chancel arch. The sanctuary has wrought-iron communion rails, and screens to the side chapels. The forward altar and the lectern have alabaster tracery and marble columns like the font. The high altar (1914, Jones & Willis) has an alabaster reredos with depictions of the Presentation and the Finding in the Temple flanking the monstrance throne and outer panels of Saints Ambrose and Charles. The frontal depicts the Sacrifice of Melchisedech and the Supper at Emmaus.
• The inner SE chapel is dedicated to Saints Helen and Mary Magdalen (by Bentley, 1876). It has a plain altar below a recessed stone panel painted with the saints’ initials which formerly held a relic aumbry by Bentley with painted doors by Westlake. Recesses on either side were apparently designed for similar aumbries but later filled with oak and glass cupboards from St Charles College. Above the reredos is a strong moulding with four angels holding the Instruments of the Passion. The two windows above are framed by another moulding with two angels and a central crucifixion. There are two statues of St Michael and St Theresa on stone pedestals.
• The Lady Chapel in the outer S aisle was furnished by Bentley in 1872–74. This included a wrought-iron grille (1876) to the side, and an altar and reredos of Carrara marble with gilded Marian monograms and fleur-de-lys. It has been restored and refurbished by IFACS, with new stencil work, under the direction of the parish priest Fr Alan Robinson, in collaboration with Chris Fanning of the Diocesan Property Office.
• The S wall of the outer S aisle has four built-in confessionals with decorative colonettes and cusped arched heads.
• There are several statues in the nave and aisles, including Saints Patrick, Joseph, Augustine and Francis.
• Apart from the clerestory and the W windows, all windows have stained glass. The six-light E window is by Jones & Willis; seven S aisle windows have been attributed to Lavers, Barraud & Westlake (dated between 1877 and 1880); while three in the N aisle are signed by the firm (1868–70). Confirmed designs by Bentley include two two-light windows with female saints in the Lady Chapel (1871); the three-light Pentecost window in the former Holy Ghost chapel; four windows in the St Charles Chapel (c1888–89); and a three-light window in the N aisle (1895–6). The easternmost window in the outer N aisle depicting St Vincent de Paul, the Madonna and St John the Evangelist is based on cartoons by John Hungerford Pollen for the Chapel of Studley Royal, North Yorkshire, which were adapted after his death as a memorial window to Pollen (1820–1902) and made by James Powell & Sons.


The mission was started in 1849, with Mass said initially at No 4 Sutherland Place, close to the site of the present church. In 1851 work started on the present church, from designs by Thomas Meyer, about whom information is elusive. He is thought to have been a London architect, also responsible for the Catholic Church at Avon Dassett, Warwickshire. His original drawings for the church at Bayswater indicate an assured hand, familiar with the principles of Puginian Gothic design. Meyer also designed an earlier school chapel in the same street, likely on the site of the later primary school building, sited north of the current presbytery. The church was initially dedicated to St Helen, in honour of Mrs Helen Hargrave, one of the two sister benefactresses. The foundation stone was laid on 2 December 1851 but work stopped once the building had reached the height of the aisle parapets due to a lack of funds.

This followed closely on the heels of the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England, and the Archbishop of the newly created Diocese of Westminster, Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, was engaged in trying to establish new centres of Catholic activity in the Diocese. Wiseman approached Henry Edward Manning, an Anglican convert, to set up a new community of priests in Bayswater, who received permission from Pope Pius IX to found the Oblates of St Charles, inspired by St Charles Borromeo, reforming Bishop of C16 Milan. Manning, along with three other priests, moved into a house at Bayswater, and work on the unfinished church resumed under Henry Clutton, who was related to Manning by marriage. The church was opened for worship on 2 July 1857 and at this time comprised of the nave, two aisles, chancel, N and S chancel chapels and the base of the SW tower. The dedication to St Mary of the Angels reflects the devotion of both Manning and St Charles to St Francis of Assisi, as a translation of the famous Assisi church Santa Maria degli Angeli, in Italy.

In 1869 a N aisle with an eastern chapel was added from designs by J F Bentley, who had been articled to Clutton, including altars to St Joseph and the Sacred Heart. Bentley was given his first independent commission at St Francis of Assisi, Notting Hill, by Fr H A Rawes, Superior of the Oblate Congregation from 1880. This period was the start of over three decades of addition and augmentation work by Bentley, and stands as a case study of his stylistic development. The style of the N aisle is C13 French Gothic. A S aisle with Lady Chapel, added in 1872-74, displays the architect’s growing interest in Early English Gothic. Bentley also added a timber roof over the nave, chancel and aisles, plastered the painted brick internal walls, and designed the fine iron gates to the baptistery. He also designed the Chapel of SS Helen and Mary Magdalene (also known as the Chapel of the Relics), which formerly held great timber cupboards painted by NHJ Westlake (now removed), to hold relics brought from Rome.

In 1887 the N aisle was extended, in late Decorated style, with the creation of an additional chapel. Bentley also added numerous furnishings (including a rood beam, now removed) and stained glass windows. The house for the Oblate community (now the presbytery) was built in c1870 (either by Clutton or SJ Nicholl). In 1903, a new altar designed by FW Tasker was installed in the St Charles chapel. In 1912, George Powell furnished the Chapel of the Holy Ghost; two years later, a new alabaster high altar by Jones & Willis was installed (containing the body of St Faustulus, which had previously been open to view in a glass case beneath the previous altar), followed by a new oak pulpit by Mr Weir in 1923 (since removed). In the 1920s, work was in progress on the unfinished tower and the current top stage was likely added during this time. However the spire which had been envisaged by Meyer was never built.

In 1974, the Oblates left and the parish was handed over to the Archdiocese. In recent years, a glazed narthex screen has been installed, the aisle floors repaved and disabled access improved (architect Jane Ferra); a new altar installed (Ormesby of Scarisbrick) and the interior redecorated and refurbished (IFACS). The church was reconsecrated on 4 November 2007.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic Church of St Mary of the Angels, Bayswater, of 1851 to original designs by Thomas Meyer, and completed in 1857 by Henry Clutton, with additions by J F Bentley, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architect: of more than special interest as the combined work of distinguished architect Henry Clutton, building on the earlier work of Thomas Meyer, and John Francis Bentley, one of the most highly regarded Roman Catholic architects and designers of the Victorian age, best known for his work at Westminster Cathedral;

* Architectural interest: a muscular and well-crafted church, distinctive in design and detailing and representative of three decades of addition and augmentation work by Bentley, illustrating his stylistic development;

* Interior: the internal volumes are representative of the gradual evolution of the building, which, despite Bentley’s use of varied Gothic styles, adds up to a coherent and unified space of considerable architectural quality;

* Furnishings: the church retains several fittings and furnishings of high quality, including several pieces designed by Bentley, which are representative of a range of Victorian decorative crafts, including the developing interest in polychromatic decoration. The work of Nathaniel Westlake is also represented in St Joseph’s shrine;

* Intactness: the church remains substantially intact, including original liturgical layout, supplemented by later side chapels, and all salient historic fabric;

* Group value: with the presbytery listed at Grade II*.

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