Saturday, 28 February 2015

London Suburban Catholic Churches 5 - Our Lady of Grace, Charlton

Another South-East London gem, Our Lady of Grace is located in the suburb of Charlton, which developed in the late 19th. Century as London began to expand into previously rural areas. Nearby is the remnant of the old Charlton village, and the Jacobean Charlton House, with its adjoining park. The Valley, home of Charlton Athletic Football Club, is also quite close.

Charlton House

Formerly a diocesan parish, the church is now in the care of the Spiritans (formerly known as the Holy Ghost Fathers), following restructuring in the Archdiocese of Southwark a few years ago. The previous Parish Priest, Fr. Michael Leach is a former Capuchin friar, and an old friend of mine.

Church Interior, looking West
The interior of Our Lady's is beautiful. The Sanctuary was reordered just prior to Vatican II, apparently with the removal of a fussy, and not particularly meritorious, reredos to allow the incorporation of a Calvary and a picture of Our Lady, behind the High Altar, in the manner often seen in Spanish churches.
Church interior, looking East
The fine presbytery is interesting in that it boasts a Blue Plaque, to William Henry Barlow, a Victorian engineer.
Photo of plaque
The Blue Plaque

File:William Henry Barlow High Combe 145 Charlton Road Charlton SE7.jpg
The Presbytery

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

London uburban Catholic Churches 4 - St. Bede's, Clapham Park

Church Entrance

This delightful church will be well-known to many traditional Catholics from the London area, as it was one of the first in the suburbs to cater for those with devotion to the Usus Antiquior Liturgy, and has incorporated regular Traditional Latin Sunday Masses into its life for some considerable time, thanks particularly to the Parish Priest, Fr. Christopher Basden, and the formidable Fr. Andrew Southwell, former Monk and devotee of the Old Rite, as well as various clergy who have served in the parish as visitors over recent years.

Fr. Basden

Fr. Southwell
The church itself is one of some twenty-one, so called 'Ellis boxes', endowed by the benefactress and convert to Catholicism, Miss Frances Ellis (1846-1930) in the early 20th. Century, who stipulated that the churches she funded would be small, simple and Romanesque in style, culminating in very distinctive buildings in various locations across the South-East of England. The full list of these is shown below.

Miss Frances Ellis

  • St. Benet’s, Abbey Wood
  • St. Gertrude’s, South Bermondsey
  • Our Lady of the Rosary, Brixton
  • St. Helen’s, Robsart Street, Brixton
    (since merged with Corpus Christi, Brixton)
  • Holy Cross, Carshalton
  • Holy Cross, Catford
  • Our Lady of Grace, Charlton
  • St. Vincent de Paul, Clapham Common
  • St. Bede’s, Clapham Park
    (Miss Ellis lived next door in the house that is now the presbytery)
  • St. Gregory’s, Earlsfield
    (since replaced)
  • St. William of York, Forest Hill
  • Ss. Philip and James, Herne Hill
  • St. Wilfred’s, Kennington Park
  • St. Bartholomew’s, Streatham/Norbury
  • St. Matthews, West Norwood
  • St. Thomas the Apostle, Nunhead
  • St. James the Great, Peckham Rye
  • St. Francis de Sales & St.Gertrude, Stockwell
  • Ss. Simon & Jude, Streatham Hill
  • Our Lady of the Assumption, Links Road, Tooting
    (since replaced)
  • St. Boniface, Tooting
  • St. Elpheges, Wallington
    (since replaced, the original church now acting as a parish centre adjacent to the new building).

Miss Ellis, in fact, lived in the house adjacent to St. Bede's, and worshipped there regularly.
Church Interior

St. Bede's has a simple exterior, and a light, airy interior with several strikingly beautiful details, emphasised by being small in number and creating high spots in an otherwise plain setting. Sadly, the original Sanctuary was lost due to reordering, but this is more than compensated for by fine Liturgy.

Usus Antiquior Mass at St. Bede's
As well as the Traditional Latin Mass, St. Bedes also has thriving Latin Ameican and African-Caribbean communities, and from time-to-time hosts Masses in the Ethiopian/Eritrean Gheez Rite.

Monday, 23 February 2015

London Suburban Catholic Churches 3 - Our Ladye, Star of the Sea, Greenwich

Another of the most beautiful of South-East London's Churches, in High Gothic style, with some Pugin details, Our Ladye, Star of the Sea lies on the western side of Greenwich park, and its spire is a notable feature of the local skyline.

Nice Sunset over Greenwich Park, featuring the church spire

Sadly, no longer a Parish Church in its own right, Our Ladye's now serves as a chapel-of-ease to St. Joseph's, East Greenwich, although a full compliment of Sunday Masses are still celebrated there.
Church Interior

The Church's Gothic Revival interior includes a most ornate Sanctuary, complete with rood screen, and there are a number of nice details and statuary. This link covers the interior in more detail.
The Rood Screen

Liturgy is Novus Ordo, and tends to feature folk hymns, which aren't quite my preference. This is another church in which I would love to see the Usus Antiquior celebrated, making use of the Sanctuary in the way it was originally intended.

This church does have a significant number of excellent pubs and eateries in the vicinity, as well as the National Maritime Museum, Old Royal Observatory, Cutty Sark, and Greenwich Park. Notable among the hostelries are three on the banks of the Thames, the Trafalgar (very famous, and venue for Cabinet Whitebait Dinners), Yacht (next door to the Trafalgar, this used to serve excellent fish and chips - although I have not been there for a couple of years), and Cutty Sark.
Trafalgar Tavern

The Yacht
Cutty Sark Tavern
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...