Daniel Turner on an important anniversary for the Cathedral of North London


St Augustine’s Church in Kilburn has long been famed as one of the grandest monuments to Anglo-Catholic worship and one of the finest churches to be built in Europe in the nineteenth century. Hailed by Betjeman as ‘the cathedral of North London’ it has witnessed to the catholic faith by a daily celebration of the mass since the first Eucharist was celebrated on Passion Sunday on the current site in 1871.

Based on the design of Albi cathedral allied to an inspiring west end (complete with rose window) modelled on the cathedral of St Etienne in Caen, and with a spire second in height only to St Paul’s Cathedral in London, many see this church as JL Pearson’s finest achievement. It has a vaulted ceiling throughout and many will recognise its interior from television shows including Grantchester, Songs of Praise and the Sacred Music series on BBC4 with The Sixteen choir. It’s acoustics are world renowned and it has even played host to a concert given by Leonard Bernstein!

On Sunday 21st March there will be a Choral Solemn Mass with Byrd’s Mass for 3 Voices offered as the first in a series of events to celebrate the church’s 150 years of Parish Life and Ministry. The church has remained open where possible during the pandemic and has strict protocols for distancing etc. However, given the lofty height of the building and its vast size this has not proved as difficult for St Augustine’s as other churches!

Future events will include a Solemn Patronal Mass of St Augustine on Saturday 29th May which it is hoped will include a lecture, lunch and exhibitions. We hope Society Clergy may vest and join this wonderful celebration though as yet the plans are not secure owing to the pandemic. The church has a rich and fine collection of vestments (many made in house by the Sisters of Kilburn) which we hope to display alongside a demonstration of the superb Fr Willis organ which the church is planning to restore and complete over the coming years. 

For further details and updates do look at our new website which has some fabulous new images of the church’s interior: www.staugustinekilburn.org


Daniel Turner is Organist & Director of Music at St Augustine’s, Kilburn