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Church of St Luke

A Grade II Listed Building in Redcliffe, Kensington and Chelsea

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Latitude: 51.4877 / 51°29'15"N

Longitude: -0.1894 / 0°11'21"W

OS Eastings: 525809

OS Northings: 178086

OS Grid: TQ258780

Mapcode National: GBR 1N.PV

Mapcode Global: VHGQY.NVRW

Plus Code: 9C3XFRQ6+37

Entry Name: Church of St Luke

Listing Date: 20 October 2003

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1390756

English Heritage Legacy ID: 491328

Location: Kensington and Chelsea, London, SW10

County: Kensington and Chelsea

Electoral Ward/Division: Redcliffe

Built-Up Area: Kensington and Chelsea

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Luke, South Kensington

Church of England Diocese: London

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Listing Text

20-OCT-03 Earls Court
Church of St Luke


Anglican parish church. 1872-3 by George & Henry Godwin.
MATERIALS: Built of rock-faced, snecked Kentish ragstone with ashlar dressings, from the Doulting and Ham Hill Quarries in Somerset; slate roofs, high to nave, formerly in grey and purple with terracotta cresting, now surviving in these materials and fishscale patterns only on the octagonal roofed baptistery; apex crosses.
PLAN: Plan of long nave, wide N and S aisles, SW baptistry, and adjacent entrance lobby, N entrance lobby, SE vestry with entrance lobby, NE tower, short chancel with apsidal sanctuary.
EXTERIOR: Largely Geometric tracery, but with lancets to the clerestory, tower and basement and part of the tower; the aisle bays are separated by buttresses with steep stepped coping and offsets, pilaster strips to the clerestory; kneelers, raised coping, corbel table, sillbands and deep sills, quatrefoil ventilators below the plinth. At SW is the polygonal vestry with tall pyramidal roof; gabled porch-bay adjacent; aisle windows are 3-light with trefoil tracery. At SE end of nave is a tall stack with offsets to the decorative vestry chimney. Viewed from SE, the building is a complex of steep-pitched gables and roofs - about 8 separate pitches discernible. By steps to basement is a length of iron railing and a metal lamp standard. 5-sided apse to the short chancel at E with similar windows, the bays separated by stepped and gabled buttresses; visible above the chancel roof are 5 stepped lancets to the nave gable apex. At NE is a 3-storey tower: Geometric tracery to the louvred belfry; long unusually cusped tracery lights to the tower chamber; polygonal staircase tower at NE with foliage cornice; its own gabled doorway adjacent. Tall broached spire with gabled louvred openings to each face, possibly intended for a clock at E. N elevation similar to S but with mid-way porch-bay. W front has the one large window, of 5 lights, with deep Geometric tracery; further windows above and below; together with W aisle windows, an asymmetrical arrangement.
Interior. Very wide combination of 6-bay nave and aisles. Interior of brick currently whitewashed except to the nave arcade and clerestory which reveals the original Kentish stock brick with red and blue relieving bricks and fine tuck pointing. The nave arcade consists of rounded Hollington stone piers in C13 style supporting deeply cut foliage capitals (each featuring a different leaf) with coats of arms of each individual donor. The arches have an outer chamfer moulding and two inner mouldings, the extrados of the arch in red, white and black brick. In each spandrel stands a stone sculpture of figures of saints and clerics, heroes of the Reformation in the Protestant Evangelical tradition: on N from W Jan Huss, William Tyndale, St Alban, the prophet Isaiah, King David; on S from E St Stephen, St Ignatius of Antioch, St Sebastian, Archbishop Cranmer, Bishop Ridley. Aisle walls have boarded dado ; rectangular panelling to E ends of the aisles.
Roofs are dark-stained, raftered and boarded. The nave roof trusses consist of an elaborate arrangement of 3 arched braces springing from minor hammer-beams to each bay of the arcade (eleven in all), standing on corbels and formed as scissors between the arches and apex; enriched by carved panels of pierced tracery. The stone corbels are enriched with carvings and are alternately set in the spandrels and over the arch-apexes of the arcade. Aisle roofs are spanned by N/S trusses on carved corbels with much chamfering and moulding to the tie beam supporting a triangular arched brace, and on the E/W axis are arched braces supporting a purlin/ridge; black metal ties. The sanctuary roof is simple arched braced supported on carved angel capitals, by Boulton. Floors are boarded under the formerly fixed positions of the nave pews (originally housing 1000 now largely removed - a few (numbered) remaining) with surviving heating grilles and encaustic tiles by Minton Hollis and Co in black red and yellow to the circulation areas. The chancel and sanctuary floors are marble and alabaster (1938 by J Ernest Franck architect).
Across the W end of the nave is the towering wooden organ screen by W Aumonier with carved figures of St Michael overcoming the dragon and angels with trumpets on the pipe-shades and elaborate canopywork tracery. This was installed in 1920 as a memorial to the dead of the First World War; a dignified plain wooden inscription plaque with gilded lettering on the wall beneath. From it hang two early chandelier-like brass lamps.
At SW is the former baptistry now an office with arcade entrance and fittings for brass gates, removed but reputedly in store. Displaced and now in N nave is the very fine alabaster font, a kneeling angel with scallop for the baptismal bowl, modelled on Thorwaldsen's Angel of Baptism in Copenhagen; unsigned; a very fine and unusual example of mid C19 ecclesiastical sculpture. At NE is the remains of 1929 Memorial Chapel by AB Knapp-Fisher, architect. At NE and SE, either side of chancel arch, are very fine carved marble, alabaster and Caen stone pulpit and lectern, both by Boulton. Pulpit, reached from sanctuary on quatrefoil enriched steps with brass rail, has figures of saints and Martin Luther; fine carved architectural setting of colonnades, carved capitals, angels in the spandrels, supporting trefoiled and gabled crocketed canopies. The reading desk/lectern is a wide open-work Gothic-arched alabaster desk with multiple coloured marble columns and 3 figures of angels; a fourth angel supporting the lectern was formerly centrally placed within the chancel arch. Five small stained glass lancets above; nearby plaque records these and wrought iron cross as a WWI war memorial; the cross which formerly hung within the chancel arch is now sited on the NW aisle wall. In the S aisle at E is the alabaster frame of 1914-18 War Memorial with brass plaque and fixed silver figure of Christ in Glory above.
In N aisle a window to Mary Louise Sargent, unsigned 1932; a window to Thomas and Helen Benyon, signed J Pace 242 Fulham Road. Under the organ screen are 3 stained glass windows of c1880 by Ward and Hughes. In N aisle a stained glass window c 1900 given by Sir N M Bhownaggree signed Heaton, Butler and Bayne, London. Tablet to this donor signed EE Geflowski. There is a tradition for commemorative brass plaques throughout. The remaining clear glass is a post World War II replacement. Some of the window masonry has been painted red.
Chancel arch is wide, moulded, pointed with outer billet moulding and very fine capitals of 3 carved demi-angels with musical instruments. Three steps up to chancel, empty now choir-stalls removed. In N recess the Norman and Hill organ of 1912. The chancel is described as panelled and distempered in c 1935, as now. Sanctuary, two steps up, is quite outstandingly elaborate. Alabaster altar rails with enriched brass gates. A five-bay arcade in marble and alabaster, trefoil-headed gabled and crocketed, stretches the length of the apse wall; the outer bays on each side have paired sedilia ; flanking the altar on each side are paired panels with the Ten Commandments to left and the Creed and Lords Prayer to right; in between are figures of the Prophets Moses and Elijah under gabled niches. In the centre is the 5-part reredos of a seated Christ flanked by the four Evangelists all under paired gabled crocketed canopies with finials. Large wooden chest. Vestry at SE with fireplace and fitted cupboards.
History. A High Victorian Anglican parish church built in 1872-3 by George Jnr and Henry Godwin, surveyors to the Gunter Estate which gave the site, the last of three churches by these brothers in Kensington. William Corbett and Alexander McClymont, the builders who leased the surrounding Redcliffe Estate, were the patrons and trustees of the original parish and in effect the developers. They were to meet the cost, estimated at £6000 but actually £17000, and they were forced into bankruptcy in 1878. Builders were Hill and Sons of Islington. The plentiful and high quality sculpture, including reredos, pulpit, reading desk and apse arcade - and probably the architectural sculpture also - was by Richard L Boulton of Cheltenham. The nave figures of saints and Protestant Reformers were added 1889, a gift of Revd W Handcock, the first vicar (formerly of Cheltenham) and commemorated in the church. In 1929 -30 the chancel was 'redecorated and panelled in oak...and a number of superfluous pews removed'.
Original stained glass in apse was given by Robert Gunter but was removed following war damage. A notable High Victorian town church, within a contemporaneous setting, with considerable Protestant iconographic interest. In spite of the loss of some of the fittings and decoration from the interior, the ensemble remains of considerable interest.

References: Survey of London vol XLI 1983 pp235-6;

Cherry B and Pevsner N, Buildings of England series, vol 3, London NW, p 459;

A short historical sketch of the parish and church of St Luke Redcliffe Square 1871-1934 reprinted 1989.

This List entry has been amended to add sources for War Memorials Online and the War Memorials Register. These sources were not used in the compilation of this List entry but are added here as a guide for further reading, 30 October 2017.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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