962/2/98 BRENTMEAD GARDENS NW10
24-FEB-50 CHURCH OF ST MARY
Parish church and community centre. 1808 by William Atkinson for Thomas Willan, encasing the previous and probably C17 chapel which replaced or incorporated a medieval church or chapel. Enlarged 1958 by NF Cachemaille-Day, refurbished 2009-10 for use as a church and community centre.
MATERIALS: the early C19 Gothic church is faced in gault brick with stone and probably Roman cement dressings and has a pitched slate roof. This remodelling overlays the earlier church, built in red-brown brick. 1958 church faced externally and internally in buff brick. Concrete slab roofs with shallow-pitched superstructure.
PLAN: C19 and earlier church: single-cell, in 2-bays, formerly with W entrance, the W wall largely removed in 1958; crypt. 1958 church: a rectilinear building, with a SW tower in a reduced interpretation of a Perpendicular church. Lower vestries to N. Entrances beneath tower and to S and N. Single internal space supported on two arcades of attenuated shafts.
EXTERIOR: the east end is marked by a deep gable parapet flanked by cusped finials on tall, square bases. The east window is of three lights beneath an ogee hoodmould with stops in Roman cement. The side windows of the C19 chapel are of two lights, with simple Y-tracery.
The 1958 nave is marked externally by full-height pilasters framing three bays of horizontal windows at clerestorey level. A narrow, full-height window has been inserted in each lateral wall as part of the 2009/10 remedial work. The front elevation is dominated by a tall tower with inset vertical, glazed panels in the upper stages above the entrance which is set in a slender rectilinear concrete frame. Above the entrance is a cast concrete figure of the Virgin and Child (1958) by Kathleen Parbury. Similar frames enclose three vertical windows in the lower section of the otherwise blank west wall. Above, the wall is punctuated by rows of smaller, alternating windows, all of which are set with coloured glass which diffuses a scatter of coloured light across the interior. To the right, a large cross is fixed to the wall. A single-storey vestry attached to the north elevation has strip windows which echo the clerestorey lights, while a smaller single-storey lobby leads to the southern entrance.
INTERIOR: the interior walls of the early section are rendered and lined as ashlar. Windows are set in deep reveals with a slight ogee head and with a narrow roll moulding at the arris. The roof, in late C15 manner, has a deep moulded spine beam and ribs supported on moulded corbels. The chapel contains some good wall monuments, largely to the Moyle family. These include, on each side of the east window, busts of Robert (d 1638) erected in 1657 and Walter Moyle (d 1660). Each is set in a pedimented aedicule with an inscription below and crest above. On the north wall: monument to William Gifford and Adriana his wife (d 1601) flanked by kneeling weepers within an aedicule with a scrolled strapwork pediment and apron. On the S wall: Thomas Willan d 1828: a white marble tablet within a veined marble Gothic aedicular surround. On the floor, an inscribed tablet to Arthur Moyle, d 1681. E window,1958 by AE Buss. The interior has been re-ordered; the altar is set on an extended platform; some of the benches are retained; C18 font with veined marble moulded bowl on a baluster stem.
The 1958 interior, now community centre, which is a single rectangular space, is divided by two rows of slender tapering concrete columns, likened to attenuated golf tees. These have splayed heads, circular on plan and in exposed board-marked concrete. The roof is punctuated by three circular lights. Above the opening to the C19 church is the former organ loft. Doors are flush-panelled in narrow timber frames. The free-standing cedar altar table and some benches are reused in the community centre; other fittings, including the pendant light fittings, have been removed.
HISTORY: the church of St Mary, Brentmead Gardens probably stands on the site of the medieval parish church or chapel, adjacent to the manor house which was later known as Twyford Abbey. A church was first recorded at Twyford in 1181, and in the medieval period was linked with the manor, which in turn was owned by St Paul's Cathedral. In 1636 the manor was acquired by the Moyle family who appear to have rebuilt or remodelled the church in the C17. Outside the church, to the S lies a damaged stone tablet, to Walter Moyle and his two sons Robert and Francis (1660). A late C18 drawing depicts the church as a single-cell, two-bay building with a large bellcote above the porch at the west end and with simple, two-light windows. In the background is the house, a substantial five-bay symmetrical wing facing south and a cross wing with a large external stack to the rear.
In 1807-9 William Atkinson remodelled the house and chapel for the new owner, Thomas Willan, who has been described as both a stagecoach proprietor from the City of London and a farmer, creating a romantic, castellated house which was fashionably renamed Twyford Abbey. The chapel was gothicised, but echoed the form and scale of the earlier building. A photograph dated 1908 shows the west end, treated as the current east end with buttress finials, and with a Gothic porch.
The house was bought by the Alexian Brotherhood in 1902 for use as a nursing home. They took on the chapel, which was restored in 1906, and fittings, including a new altar were introduced. A history, compiled in 1908, confirmed that other fittings were of C18 or early C19 date. Their enclosed burial ground survives, to the S of the church.
In 1958 NF Cachemaille-Day was invited to enlarge the church to accommodate a growing congregation. Rather than replicating the early C19 interpretation of the medieval chapel, in the way that many of his pre-war churches reflect a local, vernacular or historic type, Cachemaille-Day chose a minimalist modernist approach, building on a scale which treats the original church as a chancel.
William Atkinson (1773-1839) trained under Thomas Wyatt before becoming architect to the Board of Ordnance until 1829, and for whom he designed the Ordnance Office in Pall Mall. Known principally as a country house architect, and particularly in Scotland, he excelled in alterations to existing buildings adding, for example, classical wings to Broughton Hall (Yorks) and Tudor additions to Chequers (Bucks). He also worked on a small number of ecclesiastical projects including repairs to Durham Cathedral, and designed the church at Rickmansworth, Herts, which was later replaced by Sir Arthur Blomfield. Atkinson was also known as the inventor of a form of Roman cement, which was possibly used in the dressings of Twyford church.
NF Cachemaille-Day FRIBA (1896 -1976) was a prolific church architect, his work spanning the decades either side of the World War II. He trained at the Architectural Association and became a Fellow of the RIBA in 1935. He worked with Louis de Soissons, and as chief assistant to Goodhart-Rendel before forming a partnership with Felix Lander and Herbert Welch. He set up independently in 1935, having established a reputation as a church architect. He produced some notable and forward thinking churches during the 1930s, including St Nicholas, Burnage, Manchester 1931-33, for which he designed an extension in 1963 (all Grade II*), the church of the Epiphany, Leeds of 1936-8 (Grade I), and St Michael and All Angels Wythenshawe built in 1937 (Grade II*). Post-war churches include All Saints, Feltham (Grade II) which was planned in the late 1930s, but was postponed by the war and built 1951 and 1956-7. St James, Clapham (Grade II) was designed in 1957-8 to replace a chapel by Lewis Vuillamy which was bombed in 1940, and is a further example of the experiments in concrete which typified his later work. Cachemaille-Day gained a reputation for rebuilding bombed churches after the War, knitting his stripped-down concrete forms into surviving fabric, as at St Thomas, Clapton Common, LB Hackney (Grade II).
M Bullen, NF Cachemaille-Day, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, http://www.oxforddnb.com, accessed 20 Jul 2010
B Cherry and N Pevsner, Buildings of England, London 3: North West (1992)197
E Harwood, Liturgy and Architecture: the Development of the Centralised Eucharistic Space, Twentieth Century Architecture 3: The Twentieth Century church (1998) 50-74
H Richmond, for Keith Harrison Associates, St Mary West Twyford, A Jewel in an Oasis, part 2: a report on the history of the fabric of the original church (March 2001)
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
The church of St Mary, Brentmead Gardens, 1808 by William Atkinson for Thomas Willan, on an earlier core, and enlarged 1958 by NF Cachemaille-Day is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: early C19 re-facing of an earlier chapel to complement the Gothic remodelling of Twyford Abbey; post-war enlargement in stripped-down Perpendicular manner by a noted church architect;
* Monuments and sculpture: C17 wall monuments, many to the Moyle family; 1958 Virgin and Child by Kathleen Parbury;
* Historic interest: continuous occupation of a medieval manor and church site, now within suburban London, fashionably gothicised c1800, and enlarged to accommodate the mid-C20 expansion of the church congregation.