Green light for trail-blazing church project in Paddington
This Tuesday evening Westminster Council gave the green light to plans to revitalise one of England’s most magical churches, St Mary Magdalene’s in Paddington. The council’s planning committee has approved a new building to adjoin the church, which will provide new facilities allowing St Mary Magdalene’s to operate as a centre for arts and heritage.
This is a milestone decision in a ten year campaign to conserve and develop this iconic church. Built in the 1860s-70s by G.E. Street (architect of the Royal Courts of Justice) this Grade 1 listed building is a treasure house of Victorian art and decoration, but classified as a building “at risk” by Historic England. Since 2005 Paddington Development Trust has been working with the church, residents, and Westminster Council to produce a viable plan for its future – one that puts local people at the heart of its cultural regeneration.
The new building has been ingeniously designed by Dow Jones Architects to provide an airy new learning centre and canal-side café, as well as modern essentials that the church building currently lacks, such as toilets and level access. The new space will unlock the potential of the church for much wider public use and enjoyment, including as an arts venue.
As well as building the new Heritage Centre, the £6.8m project will substantially conserve and repair the historic fabric of the church, revealing its former glory. £4.3m has already been identified from the Heritage Lottery Fund and others, leaving an appeal target of £2.5m to be raised by next July. The new building is due to open to the public in 2018. John Julius, Lord Norwich – patron of the appeal and a local resident – said:
“This is wonderful news indeed, one of London’s loveliest Victorian churches will be reborn.”
Over 100 residents and local organisations have written to Westminster Council supporting the proposals. Parish priest, Fr Henry Everett said:
“I am delighted that the planners have recognised local people’s desire to bring this building back to life. We must now get down to the serious business of fundraising to make it a reality and to transform the lives of local people.”
The vision of a restored ‘Mary Mags’ is of a place that builds common values and community in 21st century London. The project will sustain an active church as window to English art, culture and history, whilst at the same time uncovering the rich ‘living heritage’ of Paddington’s communities, which come from all over the world. Margot Bright, a local supporter, said:
“I’m very excited. This is exactly what we need to bring new life and energy to the area. The focus on heritage and art can really help bring together people of different backgrounds and faiths.”
Mary Mags is at the forefront of new and emerging policies within the Church of England designed to keep churches open as places of worship whilst realising their potential for imaginative new community uses. The partnership with Paddington Development Trust aims to pioneer a way forward for other endangered historic churches. Neil Johnston, PDT Chief Executive said:
“The St Mary Magdalene restoration is one of most exciting projects in London and a test case for new church policies. The local support has been tremendous and we are very grateful to everyone who has helped so far.”
PDT has been working for some time on the St Mary Magdalene’s Church project in the hope of building a new heritage and learning centre, as well as renovating the beautiful Grade II listed Church. We have just received permission to go ahead, which is excellent news, and we are very excited!
On Thursday at 10am we would like to invite you and anyone you know who may be interested to come along to be in a photoshoot for a press release at St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Westbourne, on Rowington Close, W2 5TF. After the photoshoot, visitors will have a chance to tour the building, which has been used in lots of films and TV as a set. Guests will also have the chance to find out more about the project and what this means for the area.
Please do pass the word around. We hope you can come – the more the merrier!
There is an exhibition of contemporary painting and sculpture in the Crypt at St. Mary Magdalene’s in Paddington, London from today until Boxing Day. Artists Elizabeta Chojak-Mysko, Tomasz Mysko and Jolanta Jagiello. Private View this evening 7 to 9pm, to which all present at the Carol Sevice are invited. Then daily 1-5pm 14th-26th. Do come and see these intriguing works that try to engage with spiritual subjects.
The Benefice Carol Service took place on Sunday 13th at St Mary Magdalene’s. Our organist James Paget accompanied the Corisande Singers who sang several pieces and led the congregational singing. The fine music and singing made a real emotional start to our Christmas celebrations. Representatives of the two congregations, the two Parish Primary Schools, the St. Peter’s Lunch Club and the St Mary Magdalene Music Society read lessons. The church was full and most people stayed for refreshments afterwards.
St Peter’s Christmas Fair was held on Saturday 5th December and was very well supported. The proceeds were £950 which is a record! The turkey sandwiches, mince pies and mulled wine were very popular as was the spectacular raffle. We were pleased to receive a visit from Father Christmas! There was an excellent atmosphere on the day and lots of people enjoyed themselves.
Many thanks to all who supported the Fair!
Carols by Candlelight
Sunday 13th December, 6pm St. Mary Magdalene
Christingle and Crib Service
Thursday 24th December, 5pm St. Peter, Elgin Avenue
Thursday 24th December, 11pm St. Mary Magdalene
Christmas Day Eucharist
Friday 25th December, 11am St.Peter Elgin Avenue
Holy Family Sunday
Sunday 27th December, 11am St.Peter Elgin Avenue
The Epiphany of Our Lord
Sunday 3rd January, 11am St. Mary Magdalene