The Grade I listed St Mary Magdalene Church, Paddington, was designed by the acclaimed English architect G. E. Street in the 1860s-70s. It is on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register, following decades of water penetration and general decay. The conservation project – led by Caroe Architecture – aimed to conserve and bring to the surface the architectural and decorative quality of this Gothic Revival masterpiece, employing sensitivity and high standards in design and workmanship.
Caroe Architecture Ltd are the conservation architects working with Dow Jones Architects, who are leading on a new-build Heritage Wing and community facility being constructed for the Partnership of the Paddington Development Trust (PDT) and the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St Mary Magdalene’s Church. The conservation works were a fundamental component of the rationale behind the overall project, and there is an immutable interdependence between the need for the St Mary Magdalene’s Heritage Wing and the recent completion of a long-term repair and conservation campaign.
Caroe Architecture Ltd have worked closely with Cliveden Conservation, who were successful in the competitive tender for the HLF delivery stage, to carry out the repairs. This included specialist cleaning of the internal surfaces and decoration, and extensive external masonry and glazing repairs.
The interior artworks and fabric presented a particular challenge, and demanded the most careful consideration within the overall project. A vital component of this work was the conservation cleaning of the fine decorative painted ceilings in the Nave and Chancel, which were executed by a leading ecclesiastical artist, Daniel Bell. The approach adopted was informed by earlier extensive conservation trials. Another of the primary technical challenges was to devise a means to conserve the muscular vaulted Undercroft space in a way that would not hinder new uses, jeopardise the sensitive environment, or the highly fragile decorations and paintwork of the adjacent Chapel of St Sepulchre, by Sir Ninian Comper.
The works were undertaken in association with a significant volunteering and skills development programme, including the provision of paid internships. National Lottery players supported the project through the Heritage Lottery Fund, and other funders.
Following this programme of extensive repairs, our involvement in the Church will continue, in particular with the delicate conservation of the undercroft Chapel.