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Methodist Church

A Grade II Listed Building in Merton, London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4007 / 51°24'2"N

Longitude: -0.1652 / 0°9'54"W

OS Eastings: 527727

OS Northings: 168448

OS Grid: TQ277684

Mapcode National: GBR DB.K0Q

Mapcode Global: VHGRK.3201

Entry Name: Methodist Church

Listing Date: 5 March 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393701

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507540

Location: Merton, London, CR4

County: London

District: Merton

Electoral Ward/Division: Cricket Green

Built-Up Area: Merton

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Mitcham St Peter and St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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Listing Text


1329/0/10079 CRICKET GREEN
05-MAR-10 Methodist Church

II
Methodist church, 1959 to designs of c1950 by Edward Mills and Partners (architects) and Ove Arup and Partners (engineers).

EXTERIOR: Mitcham Methodist Church comprises a chapel and hall, placed at right angles to each other on the south and east sides of a grassed courtyard overlooking the Cricket Green; running perpendicular to the north end of the hall is a range of classrooms. The chapel has an exposed reinforced concrete frame of seven-by-four bays, with pale yellow brick infill walls, painted softwood windows and a striking folded concrete slab roof. The roof plane extends beyond the chapel's north wall to incorporate an external walkway, whose concrete piers are also part of the main chapel frame. This walkway provides direct access to the chapel itself, under a concrete slab canopy at its west end, and to the hall at the east end. The chapel is rectangular on plan with a full-width western atrium, this with floor to ceiling glazing in the west-end wall.

The hall and classroom ranges are flat-roofed with load-bearing brick walls and much plainer in composition and detailing, with interior fittings typical of their period; this range lacks special interest, which is concentrated in the church.

INTERIOR: fair-faced brickwork, with rectangular riven York stone slab facings to the east wall behind the communion area. The six-bay chapel is windowless at the western end, and then has four bays with glazing to the upper portions and small square windows at eye level. The east end is illuminated by full-height glazing in the final bay on the south side only. The ceiling is clad in narrow strips of cedar and the floor is small hardwood blocks.

FIXTURES & FITTINGS: The majority of the original fittings survive and these include: wood bench pews and choir stalls; organ pit with organ; altar rail; east end wooden cross; lectern; and pulpit. These were also designed by Mills. The original lighting appears to have been lost since 1959.

HISTORY: Edward Mills was the foremost architect of Methodist churches in the post-War period, designing fourteen new churches in England, including Greenwich (1953), Loundsley Green, Chesterfield (1965) and Trinity, Woking (1965) as well as the cathedral at Mbale, Uganda. Mills was himself a Methodist, and his approach to church design was underpinned by his faith, as outlined in his book 'The Modern Church' published in 1956, where he advocated the importance of a church as a community centre. A preliminary design for Mitcham was illustrated in the book, showing the church with community hall and classrooms arranged around a cloister. As built, Mitcham Methodist Church differs from these plans, but the essential concept of a community centre and church combined, arranged around a courtyard, remained. In discussions when the church was being planned, Mills was a strong advocate of adopting a Modernist idiom. He told the clients he favoured 'a frankly contemporary design using present-day materials and methods of construction, and endeavouring to present though this means an honest expression of the purpose of the building so designed.' Mitcham Methodist Church was the most widely-published of Mills' church designs. As well as featuring in his own book and various architectural journals, it was one of three English churches showcased in 'The New Churches of Europe' of 1964 by GE Kidder Smith, alongside St Paul's Bow Common (Grade II*) and Coventry Cathedral (Grade I).

Mills was also the architect of residential and industrial buildings, most notably the canteen at the Rhone-Poulenc factory in Dagenham which became one of the first post-war buildings to be listed. Mills contributed to the design of elements at the Festival of Britain site including the administration building. His obituary in the Architects Journal described him as 'a post-war pioneer of concrete design'.

SOURCES: 'Proposed Methodist church, Mitcham' in Architect & Building News (March 31 1950) 332-333
'Proposed Methodist church, Mitcham' in Architectural Design (March 1950) 56-63
Edward David Mills, 'The Modern Church' (1956)
'Three Churches: Methodist Church, Mitcham' in Architectural Review (December 1959) 324-326
'Methodist Church, Mitcham' in Architecture & Building (January 1960) 24-28
Alan Powers, 'Obituary: Edward David Mills' in the Independent (2 February 1998)
'Methodist church at Mitcham' in Architect & Building News (July 13 1960) 53-58
GE Kidder Smith, 'The New Churches of Europe' (1964)

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Mitcham Methodist Church is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* architectural interest: in particular, dynamic folded slab roof which extends beyond the church's end wall to create a covered walkway;
* one of the most distinctive designs by Edward Mills, the foremost post-war architect of Methodist churches whose writing on church design was influential, as were his innovations in the use of concrete
* materials and finish are good quality, in particular the York stone-clad east end, epitomising Mills' belief in the eloquence of natural materials;
* quality of light and space of the interior;
* retains the vast majority of its interior fittings.

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

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