Upon its consecration in 1874, the Church Times described St Mary’s as ‘an excellent specimen of an inexpensive church,’ and, indeed, the exterior of this redbrick essay in the lancet style is unpromising, perhaps like the work of James Brooks on an off-day. Pass through the west porch, though, and you enter into another world. This small, intimate, church gradually reveals itself to you, first the north aisle extension (by H.S. Goodhart-Rendel), then the rest comes into view.
The redbrick interior (never whitewashed) is distinguished for several furnishings. The baroque High Altar and retable, originally made by S. Gambier Parry, owes its present form first to Martin Travers and then to Goodhart-Rendel. Travers’ skill as a craftsman of vision is most clearly seen in the 1920 war memorial, the statue of Our Lady Queen of Peace, based on a gothic Virgin and Child at Amiens, convincingly baroquised by the provision of a sunburst behind Our Lady’s head, and the use of gold and silver. At the west end is the organ loft, the loft and organ case in the 17th c. style by Gambier Parry. Just as the church itself is more than the sum of its constituents, the feel of St Mary’s is not just the work of the architects and craftsmen who enriched this building, but of the praying and worshipping community over the generations. As you pray here, you will be aware of the rumble of District and Circle line trains below your feet, perhaps a reminder of the other place, but you will be more conscious of the joys of heaven. Rejoice with Our Lady in the Resurrection of Jesus:
Joy to thee O Queen of Heaven, alleluia:
He whom thou wast meet to bear, alleluia;
As He promised hath arisen, alleluia;
Pour for us to God thy prayer, alleluia