St Mary Magdalene, Paddington

On a cold day in December 2017, Allchurches Trust attended a ground-breaking ceremony that had been 10 years in the planning. St Mary Magdalene’s Church on the edge of the canal at Paddington, between Little Venice on one side and the Warwick Estate on the other and not far from Grenfell Tower, is finally undergoing a major restoration.

St Mary Mags, as it is affectionately known, is widely recognised as George Edmund Street’s masterpiece in London, built while he was working on the Royal Courts of Justice. It's Grade I and was a favourite of Betjeman’s but in the later 20th century it fell into decay and was on the Heritage at Risk register.

After years of planning and praying, work has now started to make this Christian church into a community and heritage hub serving one of the most religiously and culturally diverse wards in London.

“The Project aims to make St Mary Mags into a heritage, cultural and arts centre for north Paddington, while refurbishing it as a living place of worship. To achieve that, we need to build a new ‘heritage wing’ between the church and St.Mary Magdalene Primary School which will house a lift connecting all levels, amenities, a café at canalside level, and a heritage education room.

"Inside the church, the painted surfaces of the nave ceiling, the chancel vault and the chancel walls will all be cleaned and conserved, and the stained glass windows repaired. The undercroft will be made usable, a new vestry will be created, and the Ninian Comper Chapel conserved.

“The aims of the Project, to enrich local people’s lives through heritage, art and culture, fit exactly with our own sense of mission, which embraces the approach to God through beauty.” Fr Henry Everett

Allchurches is looking forward to returning when the project is finished to sit on the canalside café terrace that will bear our name in recognition of our £75,000 grant.

Photos courtesy of Ian Hessenberg