Major Improvements at St. Mary Magdalene’s Church

The latest phase of improvement work is just coming to an end at St.Mary Magdalene’s Church. English Heritage has provided the bulk of the funding for these major works to the Grade 1-listed Westbourne landmark.

The church has been given a complete new electrical installation, to replace the old system which was condemned as unsafe in the late 1990s, and a fabulous new lighting system, with custom-built Victorian-style chandeliers. The chandeliers, designed by church architect Colin Kerr, had to be approved by the London diocesan authorities as well as English Heritage before they were hand-made in a Soho workshop. The chandeliers incorporate uplighters which enable the church’s amazing painted ceiling to be seen better than ever before.

At the same time as the electrical works were being done, major drainage works were carried out on the north side of the church, to bypass Victorian drains that had become blocked or damaged by tree roots, and to carry away increasing amounts of ground water. The effect of the new drains has become obvious inside the building within weeks, as the north wall has begun to dry out. The drainage work was essential before any improvement work could be done in the crypt beneath the church, which had been liable to flooding.

The next phase of work at St. Mary Magdalene’s includes plans for a new building between the church and the neighbouring primary school, which will enable level access to the crypt as well as the main floor of the church, allowing the building to be used much more widely by the local community. A bid for funding for this next phase of the work is being made to the Heritage Lottery Fund this summer.