St Saviour's church and institute
Heritage Category: Listed Building
List Entry Number: 1422244
Date first listed: 13-Nov-2014
Statutory Address: 1 Armstrong Road, Acton, London, W3 7JL
Statutory Address: Old Oak Road, Acton, London, W3 7HN
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Statutory Address: 1 Armstrong Road, Acton, London, W3 7JL
Statutory Address: Old Oak Road, Acton, London, W3 7HN
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: Greater London Authority
District: Ealing (London Borough)
Parish: Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference: TQ2182480291
Church and institute, 1924-5 by Edward Brantwood Maufe for the Royal Association in aid of the Deaf and Dumb.
Reasons for Designation
St Saviour's church and institute, of 1924-5 by Edward Brantwood Maufe, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a key early work by this major C20 church architect, showing his refined, Scandinavian-inspired modern Gothic idiom to good effect in its dramatic composition and cool, harmonious interior;
* Expression of function: Maufe's design incorporates sundry features geared towards the specific needs of a deaf congregation, including the sloping floor, twin pulpits and use of indirect lighting;
* Historic interest: built by and for what is now the Royal Association for Deaf People, a pioneering disability group in existence since the 1850s, St Saviour’s has been a mainstay of deaf religious and social life in the capital for nearly a century;
* Intactness: notwithstanding the changes to the institute hall, St Saviour's as a whole remains very much as built, the church interior being almost completely unaltered.
St Saviour’s Church for the Deaf was built in 1924-5, but its origins are inextricably linked to the much longer history of the Royal Association in aid of the Deaf and Dumb (RADD, now the Royal Association for Deaf People). This organisation was founded in 1854 to continue the work begun in 1841 by the Institution for the Employment, Relief and Religious Instruction of the Adult Deaf and Dumb. The Association’s spiritual work, under the chaplaincy of the Revd Samuel Smith, proved extremely successful, and in 1870-3 a purpose-built deaf church was erected at the junction of Oxford Street and Lumley Street to designs by AW Blomfield.
This first St Saviour's Church fell victim to redevelopment plans by the Grosvenor Estate and was demolished in 1923. The RADD, having received £15,000 compensation for the early surrender of the lease, acquired two replacement sites at Acton and Clapham - in the western and southern suburbs respectively - and obtained two very similar sets of designs from the architect Edward Maufe, in each case comprising a hall and social facilities at ground level and a worship space above. Acton was the senior foundation, inheriting the dedication and a number of fittings from the Oxford Street church. The foundation stone was laid by Edward, Prince of Wales on 22 April 1924, and construction work, undertaken by Holloway Brothers at a cost of £16,500, was completed within the year. The opening ceremony was performed on 5 May 1925 by Princess Mary, with various dignitaries in attendance.
Edward Brantwood Maufe (1882-1974) was an important late practitioner in the Arts and Crafts tradition and one of the leading church architects of the C20. He served his pupillage with the London architect William Alfred Pite, and also studied at Oxford and the Architectural Association. His two buildings for the RADD made his reputation. They show the influence of early-C20 Swedish architecture with its delicate balance of tradition and modernity – an influence likewise felt in his other churches, including St Thomas the Apostle, Ealing (1933-4), All Saints at Esher in Surrey (1938-9), and above all in his masterpiece, the new cathedral at Guildford (1932-61). Although best known as an ecclesiastical architect, Maufe also designed various houses, banks, theatres and collegiate buildings at Oxford and Cambridge, and was responsible for much of the post-war rebuilding of London’s bomb-damaged Inns of Court. From 1943 he served as architect to the Imperial War Graves Commission, for which service he was knighted in 1954.
MATERIALS: brown Crowborough brick with stone dressings
PLAN: the building occupies a corner site at the junction of Old Oak Road and Armstrong Road. The institute is on the ground floor, with the worship space above. The main entrance from Old Oak Road opens into a small entrance hall, from which twin stairs (with WCs beneath) lead up to the church. This is reverse-oriented, being entered from the east and having its high altar at the western end. It comprises a broad aisleless nave and a narrower raised chancel with a short sanctuary. To the north is a Lady chapel, and to the south a vestry. The space beneath the nave forms the institute’s main hall, which has a raised stage with dressing rooms and offices to the west, a kitchen and a side entrance lobby to the north and a billiard room to the south.
EXTERIOR: this displays Maufe’s characteristic pared-down Gothic manner, influenced by contemporary Scandinavian church design (e.g. Ivar Tengbom’s Högalidskyrkan in Stockholm), and having strong affinities with contemporary British work by Charles Holden, Giles Gilbert Scott and others. The institute building forms a low podium, with simple mullion-and-transom windows, flat roofs and stepped, ziggurat-like massing – particularly emphatic around the main east doorway on Old Oak Road. This, like the side entrance on Armstrong Road to the north, is a segmental brick arch with splayed sides and sturdy oak doors. To one side is the foundation stone, dated April 22 1924; the building's rainwater-heads bear the completion date of 1925 along with the RADD monogram.
Rising from the podium is the sheer rectangular mass of the church. Its east front, behind and above the main entrance, has a tall four-light window with reticulated Gothic tracery of stylised form, framed by shallow pilaster-buttresses and a low-pitched gable. The flank walls are of sheer brick, with slender two-light windows. Transept-like projections, taller than the institute but lower than the church, contain the Lady chapel and vestry. Canted walls mark the transition to the narrower chancel, whose blind end wall features a simple cross in relief.
INTERIORS: the main doorway from Old Oak Road leads into an ENTRANCE HALL, with the foundation stone from the Oxford Street church re-set above. A corresponding archway with decorative half-height metal gates leads through to the main hall; small octagonal windows on either side provide light to the WCs. Above these, twin flights of stone stairs ascend, via several small landings and switch-backs, to the entrance to the church. Over the lintel here is inscribed VENITE EXULTEMUS DOMINO (from Psalm 95: ‘O come, let us sing unto the Lord’); the doors themselves are covered with studded blue leather and have little cross-in-oval windows.
The CHURCH interior is a single tall volume about 60 feet long. Its design reflects an order of service whose principal medium was visual rather than auditory; the recurrent solar and stellar symbolism refers to the same fact. The internal walls are of whitewashed brick, with tall, deeply recessed windows and a wood-block floor slightly raked from east to west to give the clearest view for the entire congregation. The north and south windows are of translucent white glass to minimise glare. Above is a polygonal wagon roof, painted deep blue with wave motifs picked out in gold on the trusses, from which hang reflective light-fittings in the form of IHS-monogrammed golden sunbursts. Above the entrance is a gallery for overflow accommodation and projection apparatus, its plaster front bearing a triple wave motif. The west window contains glass by an unknown artist, given in memory of Dame Frances Maxwell-Lyte (d.1925): figures of saints with angels above and scenes of the Crucifixion, Annunciation and Resurrection below. Beneath the gallery is a polychromatic marble font, brought from the Oxford Street church and inscribed in memory of Henry George Ginner Ayshford (d.1893), secretary of the National Deaf and Dumb Teetotal Society.
A double archway to the right of the chancel steps opens into the Lady chapel, which has a low rib-vaulted ceiling and small mullioned windows containing Flemish-style glass by Martin Travers: Annunciation, Nativity and Pietà, the latter paired with the arms of Henry de Pereira, Bishop of Croydon and one-time chairman of the RADD. The altar is set in a shallow pointed recess containing a Della Robbia-style roundel of the Virgin and Child. A corresponding doorway to the left leads to the vestry, which retains its oak cupboards and doors and a trefoil-shaped stone sink.
The transition from broad nave to narrower chancel is formed by canted sections of wall, and is marked at ground level by a flight of four steps rising between twin polygonal ambones (pulpits) with oak balustrades – one for the preacher, and one for use where necessary (e.g. in the case of a visiting speaker) by a sign-language interpreter. These can be illuminated by spot-lights concealed in the walls. In front are the blue-and-gold communion rails (originally in the sanctuary) and on either side are oak clergy stalls, moveable but clearly made for the church, including two double seats with high shaped backs that match the form of the reredos. The ceiling over the short sanctuary is painted with golden stars; behind, in place of a window, is a shallow arched recess containing a very tall reredos in blue and gold, bearing a large crucifix against a drapery background, and crowned with three stars and a shaped gable containing a sunburst.
(At the time of inspection in 2014 there were also a number of moveable works of art by Deaf artists, mostly brought from the Oxford Street church, including: a plaster statue of the Good Shepherd and busts of the Prince of Wales and the Revd Samuel Smith, all by Joseph Gawen; a pre-Raphaelitesque painting of the Last Supper by Frank Ross Maguire; a bronzed plaster roundel showing Jesus healing a deaf-mute; and a set of bronze Stations of the Cross. Notwithstanding their historic and artistic interest, these are not fixed and do not form part of the listing).
The INSTITUTE hall occupies the space immediately beneath the church. The interiors were altered in the 1980s and 90s with the addition of wood-veneer panelling, a bar enclosure and various other modern fittings (none of these is of special interest*). The hall has a sloping ceiling corresponding to the church's raked floor. At the far end is a raised proscenium-arch stage, with a dressing room (an office in 2014) to the left; in the corridor wall here are two stone heads from the Oxford Street church. Other spaces include a kitchen, communicating with the hall via a serving hatch, an office and a top-lit billiard room.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: immediately to the south is the former chaplain's house, a two-storey building a central arched doorway and heavily remodelled fenestration. This building, though part of the original build, is too altered to be of special interest and is excluded from the listing. Likewise excluded is the modern yellow-brick Syrian Orthodox church on Armstrong Road, built on part of the rear yard to St Saviour's.
* Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('The Act') it is declared that these aforementioned features are not of special architectural or historic interest.
Books and journals
Cherry, B, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: London 3 North West, (2002), 176
Sheppard, F H W, Survey of London: Volume 40: The Grosvenor Estate in Mayfair, Part 2 (The Buildings), (1980), 176-184
'Building' in Obituary of Sir Edward Maufe, (20 and 27/12/1974), 27
'British Deaf Times' in The Prince at Shepherd's Bush, (July-Aug 1924), 49
'British Deaf Times' in St Saviour's Church and Institute, (Sept-Oct 1925), 73-5
'The Builder' in Church, Institute and Chaplain's House at Shepherd's Bush, (13 June 1924), 942
Margaret Richardson, ‘Maufe , Sir Edward Brantwood (1882–1974)’, rev. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004., Margaret Richardson, ‘Maufe , Sir Edward Brantwood (1882–1974), Oxford Dictionar, (2004)
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
The listed buildings are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.
End of official listing