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Roman Catholic Church of St Luke

A Grade II Listed Building in Pinner, London

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Latitude: 51.5954 / 51°35'43"N

Longitude: -0.3829 / 0°22'58"W

OS Eastings: 512106

OS Northings: 189741

OS Grid: TQ121897

Mapcode National: GBR 4D.443

Mapcode Global: VHFT0.95XB

Entry Name: Roman Catholic Church of St Luke

Listing Date: 17 March 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1429922

Location: Harrow, London, HA5

County: London

District: Harrow

Electoral Ward/Division: Pinner

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Harrow

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St John Pinner

Church of England Diocese: London

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The Roman Catholic church of St Luke, Pinner, built to designs by F X Velarde in 1957-58.


The Roman Catholic Church of St Luke, Pinner, 1957-58, the earliest of four churches in the Diocese of Westminster built to designs by F X Velarde, in a neo-Romanesque version of the continental modern style.

MATERIALS: the exterior is of pale brown brick laid in English garden wall bond and with roof coverings of copper.

PLAN: the building is not orientated correctly; the liturgical east end lies to the west. This description follows conventional liturgical orientation. The plan comprises a nave and sanctuary under a continuous pitched roof with twin west towers and low flat-roofed aisles with chapels, sacristies etc giving off.

EXTERIOR: a broad flight of steps leads up to the striking west front, characterised by simple geometrical massing comprising a cubical brick porch with a round-headed doorway. The entrance is sparingly detailed with plain jambs and a simple brick arch, and has original varnished wooden doors with applied geometric beads and panels. Behind the porch, the nave and aisle west walls are blind and the nave rises sheer and windowless to a pierced brick parapet between the two corner towers, which are topped by individually detailed cross-shaped metal finials. In the centre of the wall below the parapet is a large Portland stone sculpture of the Virgin Mary sitting for St Luke, portrayed as an artist (by David John, 1957). The towers are rectangular on plan with paired round-headed arches to the bell stages and pyramidal roofs. On the side elevations the aisles are lit by continuous multi-paned concrete-framed windows, the panes alternately square and arched and filled with opaque coloured glass. By contrast, the upper parts of the nave wall are completely plain with only small square openings. The chancel is lit by vertical glazed panels, similarly detailed. The east wall is blind.

INTERIOR: the interior has a full-height narthex with a former baptistery, now St Luke’s Chapel, on the south side and a Lady Chapel on the north side, both top-lit. The narthex opens into the nave under a wide unmoulded brick arch. The nave has walls of painted brick, and a flat timber ceiling consisting of a gold-painted framework of square panels, painted alternate shades of blue and with an alternating pattern of squares and diamonds. The six-bay nave has arcades of unmoulded round arches with incised decorative capitals in a stripped-back Romanesque style, carried on concrete columns faced with gold mosaic. The floor is of composition, inlaid with stars. The nave retains its original open-backed bench seating. The sanctuary occupies two bays. On the south side are tall double arches opening to the Holy Family side chapel below and the organ gallery above; the whole of the north side has a full-height window like those in the aisles. The panelled ceiling of the nave is continued over the sanctuary and also down the east end wall, forming the background to an integral gilded cross supporting a sculpture in makore wood of Christ Crucified by David John, flanked by angels. The sanctuary floor-covering is blue linoleum, and dates from the Post-Vatican II reordering, which has seen the removal of the high altar and the communion rails (now located at the west end of the church), but the new furnishings are in keeping with the style of the church.
Other notable elements include a fine original tabernacle by David John, in black and gold, decorated with symbols of the Cross and the Fish; a sculptural group of the Holy Family, by David John, in Honduras mahogany, located to the south side of the sanctuary; a statue of Madonna and Child by David John, located in the Lady Chapel and carved from Gris Mouchette limestone; holy water stoups in Italian limestone with plated steel fishes set into the base; the St Luke Chapel, at the south-west, which contains stained glass windows by Frank Humphreys from the original 1915 church, and a recently commissioned (2014) window by Caroline Benyon depicting St Luke and his symbol, the Ox. All the windows are placed in light boxes; the Original baptismal font, relocated from the existing Lady Chapel at the north-west, comprising a solid oak bowl with a brass cover, on a metal base.


Pinner parish was founded in 1914 and the first Masses were said by Fr John Caulfield in Dudley House at Hatch End. In 1915 the foundation stone for a new church, designed by Percy Lamb was laid in Love Lane. (Lamb was a former pupil of J F Bentley, and assisted in the supervision of Westminster Cathedral). A sketch in a contemporary newspaper report shows the west front of a building with a nave and one aisle, having a turret between them and presbytery attached to the aisle. In the event, Lamb’s nave was never built and in 1957-58 a new and much larger church was built alongside, to the designs of F X Velarde. This was the first of four churches by the Velarde practice, in the diocese (of these, three remain standing, at Pinner, Borehamwood and Whitton; Our Lady and St Vincent at Potters Bar has been demolished). He was brought in by Fr Wilfrid Trotman ARCM, liturgist and composer, who wrote: ‘'while I live, and I am here, I'll have no “repository” art invading this church. Nothing will go in it that has not the approval of the architect'’ (quoted in Catholic Herald, 17 January 1958). The contractors were Messrs William Lacey (Hounslow) Ltd, and building costs were in the region of £50,000.

The 1957 Catholic Herald description of the building is as follows:

‘'The £46,000 building, to seat 350 people, somewhat suggests basilica-type forerunners in the arcading, the pillars being bright in their expensive gold mosaic sheathing, the ample bare walling above them stark in its lilac hue. It is the humble simplicity of the nave wall that accentuates the glory of a suspended flat ceiling panelled off in varying shades of blue. Its regal sumptuousness is continued down the sanctuary wall, where behind the altar a great gold cross, really part of the same panelling device, bears the crucified Christ in waxed mahogany. The lighting is pleasingly concealed in the ceiling panelling, and for a tester above the altar, Velarde once more teases in his own inimitable manner by giving us four extra concealed panel lights forming a square above the altar-piece.

Since the early days of his St Monica’s at Bootle, Velarde has turned his attention, as Pinner shows, more to colour effect, and at Pinner too shows us what can be done with glass. The door separating narthex from nave is a vastness of plate-glass, allowing an impressive view from the street at all times of the gold altar cross and the fenestration is an irregular glazed pattern of panels of slightly differing hues.'’

The large sculpture on the west front of Our Lady sitting for St Luke, the artist, was by a newcomer, the 27-year-old David John. John also provided the wooden Crucifixion on the rear wall of the sanctuary, a tabernacle decorated with symbols of the Cross and fishes, the Madonna and Child statue in the Lady Chapel, the Holy Family group to the south of the sanctuary, the holy water stoups and, later, in 2007, the four metal consecration crosses fixed to the nave wall. A sample Station of the Cross was commissioned, and is retained in a first floor room in the Parish Hall, but the full set were never completed due to cost constraints.

The interior of the church has remained little altered apart from the reordering of the sanctuary, which involved the removal of the high altar and communion rails; the latter have however been retained, and can now be found alongside the west wall. Figurative Stations replaced the original small plain Stations in 1976. In 1965 a new parish hall was built behind Velarde’s church, to a modern design by G H and G P Grima. The church was finally consecrated on 14th July 1978, by Cardinal Basil Hume. In 1986 the old church was adapted by Keystone architects to serve as a parish centre. In 2005 plans were prepared by Anthony Delarue Associates for a grand entrance portico/colonnade at the west front, incorporating ramped access. This was not implemented, and instead a more modest scheme to provide ramped access was prepared in 2007 by Alexander Good. There are currently (2015) plans to relocate the original tabernacle to the rear wall, where it originally stood prior to reordering.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic Church of St Luke, Pinner, of 1957 by Francis Xavier Velarde, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a good example of the post-war work of one of the most highly-regarded and original ecclesiastical architects of the C20, F X Velarde, showing his distinctive synthesis of modern and traditional influences, and his compositional use of bold elemental forms to create a church of harmonious form and massing;
* Degree of survival: the church remains substantially intact, retaining its external sculpture and key principal fixtures and fittings;
* Fixtures and fittings: the church contains several high quality internal fittings and fixtures, including holy water stoups, font and sanctuary furnishings;
* Artistic interest: the building also contains several notable pieces by the sculptor and liturgical designer David John, and is representative of the mid-C20 collaboration of artists and architects, part of a developing culture of sacred art within the Catholic Church.

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