735/0/10171 LANSDOWNE DRIVE
24-MAR-06 Church of St Michael and All Angels
Parish church. 1959-60 by N.F.Cachemaille-Day. Pale brick laid in stretcher bond over a reinforced concrete frame; the roof is concrete shell, covered with copper, with shallow segmental windows on each side with coloured glass. Square plan body of church with entrance porch to east and an attached church hall to west, this not of special interest.
EXTERIOR: To the east, the mainly blind wall features the aluminium sculpture of St. Michael slaying the dragon. Below this the wide projecting porch with flat roof and brick panels and three openings between concrete frame. Above the walls, the shallow dome of the roof is visible, with the shallow clerestory lights below. To the north and south, the shallow profile of the roof is even clearer, as is the clerestory glass and concrete mullions. Below this are the exposed brick buttresses, and plain glass in each bay near the bottom of the wall. Further west is the lower church hall, appearing as a separate range, but attached, and of considerably less special interest.
INTERIOR: The entrance is flanked by a vestry and chapel, as well as the stairs to the gallery. The body of the church is an open plan square, with the shallow dome of the roof above. The space is strikingly lit by the coloured clerestory glass, this designed by Cachemaille-Day and comprising brightly coloured pieces set into mortar and concrete mullions. Above the altar is a predominantly red window showing St. Michael. The glass was made by the local firm of Goddard and Gibbs. Lined up between the body of the church and the vestry and chapel are a set of apostles' windows designed by John Hayward. There is a gallery above this. Also of note inside are the Hayward murals, these depicting Old and New Testament scenes on the side walls, dominating the wall below the clerestory window and the plain glass below. The Baptism of Christ on the east-facing wall behind the font, which is set down a few steps in front of the mural; there is a pair of angels in the corners of the altar end. These murals were painted onto large canvases and applied directly to the wall, a technique known as marouflage. Cachemaille-Day also designed the altar, which comprises a free-standing elongated octagon with a tall hardwood open frame and altar rail. There are two pulpits, one to each side. There have been some minor changes, including the blocking up of the formerly glazed partition behind the altar dividing church and hall. The successful combination of the Cachemaille-Day designed space, with the stained glass on four sides that creates a variety of coloured effects at different times in the day, free-standing altar, and the Hayward designed murals and apostle glass creates a comprehensively strong and striking interior.
HISTORY: Built in 1959-60 on the west side of London Fields as a replacement to the 1864 church that was destroyed by enemy action on February 5th 1945 (a plaque in the building refers to this). This Victorian church remained standing until around 1956, and the vicarage survives. N.F. Cachemaille-Day (1896-1976), a C20 church architect of considerable acclaim, was then serving as Architect-Surveyor to the Archdeaconry of Hackney after World War II, and he designed a number of new and part-replacement churches in Hackney. The War Damage Commission part paid for the church, as did the London Diocesan Fund, and the building was gifted a set of nine murals designed by John Hayward shortly after opening, these a gift of the Austin Abby Memorial Trust Fund for Mural Paintings in Great Britain. Cachemaille-Day often worked in collaboration on with other artists, and John Hayward also designed the remarkable sculpture of St. Michael slaying the dragon over the entrance porch. The foundation stone was laid on 7 November 1959 by the Bishop of Stepney, and the building was consecrated by the Bishop of London on 11 February 1961.
SOURCES: Robinson, Elizabeth. C20 Buildings in Hackney. A Hackney Society Publication. 1999.
Cherry, B and Pevsner, N. Buildings of England London 4:North.
ASSESSMENT OF IMPORTANCE: St. Michael and All Angels is an bold and distinctive church, designed by the notable C20 church architect. N.F. Cachemaille-Day in 1959-60 as a replacement for a bomb-damaged Victorian church on the other side of London Fields. It is impressive mostly for its interior, but with external interest as well, namely the striking sculpture of St. Michael slaying the dragon over the entrance porch, as well as the clear massing. The interior features a shallow concrete shell roof with shallow segmental lights on all sides, these with colourful glass mosaic designed by the architect, as well as a large series of murals and glass by the contemporary artist John Hayward. The church meets the highly selective criteria for listing post-war churches for its comprehensively thoughtful and high-quality design of the post-war period, incorporating murals by a notable artist and locally crafted glass designed by the architect, as well as a structural innovation of the shell concrete roof, together creating an impressive ensemble that has special architectural interest. The attached but set-back church hall is of not of special interest.