History in Structure

Church of St Mary Magdalene

A Grade II* Listed Building in Greenwich, London

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Latitude: 51.493 / 51°29'34"N

Longitude: 0.0595 / 0°3'34"E

OS Eastings: 543068

OS Northings: 179124

OS Grid: TQ430791

Mapcode National: GBR NJ.MN4

Mapcode Global: VHHNJ.ZQ9V

Plus Code: 9F32F3V5+5Q

Entry Name: Church of St Mary Magdalene

Listing Date: 26 March 1954

Last Amended: 10 March 2009

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1358969

English Heritage Legacy ID: 200362

ID on this website: 101358969

Location: Woolwich, Greenwich, London, SE18

County: London

District: Greenwich

Electoral Ward/Division: Woolwich Riverside

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Greenwich

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Woolwich St Mary Magdalene with St Michael and All Angels

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

Tagged with: Church building

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(Formerly listed as:
(Formerly listed as:


Church, 1727-39 by Deptford bricklayer, Matthew Spray. The architect's name is unknown. East end was rebuilt and extended with transepts in 1893-94 by JO Scott. Some C20 modifications.

PLAN: west tower and aisled nave with chancel, organ chamber (to SE) and vestries (to NE). Crypt at E end. C20 extension to NE.

EXTERIOR: the main body of church is a stock brick Georgian building comprising nave and aisles, the aisles partly embracing the west tower. The church has Portland stone dressings, including a heavy stone cornice, and gauged red brick arches to openings. The first floor windows are round arched with stone surrounds and keystones, within red brick arches. The smaller ground floor windows are similar but segment-headed. The brick parapet with segment-headed recessed panels conceals the pitched nave roof and hipped vestry and aisle roofs. There are brick angle pilasters which continue up to parapet coping; the cornice breaks out around these. The tower has four stages, two above the roof line. The cornice and parapet are similar to those on the body of church and there are round-headed louvred bell openings in top stage with bulls-eye windows beneath. The west door in tower, with moulded architrave, console bracketed cornice and pediment, is flanked by round arched doorways at the west end of each aisle. The east end was added in 1894 by Scott and is also in a classical style. The one-bay transepts have round-arched windows with moulded architraves and the east window is Venetian, with heavy stone surround and dentil cornices at sides. An aedicule with bulls-eye window and Latin inscription, 'Ne despectetes qui peccare soletis exemplo meo vos reparate deo' (O ye who are accustomed to sin, lest ye look down, by my example make ye reparation unto God) rises above the line of the parapet at the east end. There is a post-World War II extension at the east end.

INTERIOR: the nave of five bays has a gallery supported on octagonal piers with Ionic columns above, each carrying an architrave and swell frieze supporting an entablature. Part of the C18 gallery front survives with early C21 brass railings and glass panels above. The gallery is accessed through the two west front side doors, via two original C18 staircases with surviving balustrades, handrails and newel posts. The main entrance leads through the tower base into the nave beneath the gallery where there is an oak doorcase of fluted Doric pilasters with triglyph frieze and dentil cornice. The segmental vaulted nave roof has paterae in the centres of the bay panels. There are wide one-bay transepts, the north as organ chamber, the south as Lady Chapel with early C21 timber screen incorporating Edwardian and 1950s stained glass. The segmental vaulted chancel roof has a geometrical pattern of raised borders and paterae. This area also has a raised marble floor. The nave aisles were partitioned off in 1961, at the same time the pews were removed. The vestries retain their original parquet flooring. What was a very small crypt was enlarged in 1967.

FIXTURES & FITTINGS of particular note are: the Lady Chapel's original C18 oak reredos with attached, fluted Ionic columns and similar pilasters; the pulpit which runs on rails along the floor, a rare feature, and the choir stalls and other furniture in a matching wood-inlay design all of 1897; the monument to Daniel Wisemary, Clerk of the Cheque of His Majesty's Yard at Deptford, died 1738/9; the memorial dedicated to Frederick Whomes and other victims of the Princess Alice steamer disaster on 3rd September 1878; the Harrison and Harrison organ of 1900. There is also stained glass of various periods: in the east end window of c1900; in the Lady Chapel window of 1922.

HISTORY: The church was paid for in part by funds raised following the Fifty New Churches Act of 1711. The Commission established under the Act intended to build fifty new churches for the rapidly growing conurbation of London. In fact only twelve churches were built anew and a further five, of which this was one, were part-funded by the Commissioners. The Georgian church replaced an earlier structure and there is thought to have been a church on or near this site since the C9.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Church of St Mary Magdalene is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* special historic interest as one of the few churches built with funds from the Fifty New Churches Act of 1711, on a site where there has been a church since the C9 AD;
* special architectural interest as a well-surviving Georgian church complete with interior galleries and original fittings such as the two C18 doorcases, two staircases and a finely-carved oak reredos;
* interesting work of the late Victorian period, including the east end by JO Scott of 1893-94 and a pulpit on rails, choir stalls and other items of chancel furniture of 1897.

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