St Matthews, Kensington

The Parish Church of St.Matthew Kensington Olympia was designed and built 1870-71 by the prolific church architect, Sir Arthur Bloomfield. Born in Fulham Palace, he was the son of Charles Bloomfield, Bishop of London. The foundation stone was laid by a local worthy, Lady Barrow, and the church was consecrated on St. James’s day 1871. The Parish was officially created in 1872 to meet the spiritual needs of the rapidly expanding West Kensington area.

The design of the church is in Bloomfield’s early Gothic style, heavily influenced by the work of William Butterfield and G.E.Street. Built of yellow London stock brick with bands of red brick and stone window tracery and details, the roofs are banded in stripes of green and grey slate. The church is made up of a broad central aisle with north and south aisles, transepts and a chancel; there is a bell-cot over the chancel arch which contains two bells. The church stands in dramatic contrast to the Italianate detailing of the houses in Sinclair Road.

Dominating the church is the magnificent altar-piece, installed in 1898 as part of the re-ordering of the chancel which included carved panelling and the choir stalls, all designed by La Strange.The central panel above the altar shows the Resurrection of the Lord, the two side panels portray Our Lady and St Gabriel at the Annunciation; there is a profusion of interactive carved grape vines in the Devon style. Above the three in the East Window is depicted The Ascension of The Lord; in this way the East end of the church proclaims the fundamental mystery of the Christian faith in the Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ.

The interior is divided into three aisles by eight noble Portland stone columns with vigorously carved capitols, probably by Thomas Earp; see also the chancel arch and transepts, the details and elaboration increase as the pillars move towards the altar. The walls, now restored to their original appearance, are made up of bands of honey yellow cream and red brick. The roof is an excellent example of straightforward timber construction, with no unnecessary ornamentation, but relying on structural

In the south aisle is the statue of St.Matthew, a late work by Ivor Levi, caved in Pear wood and given in memory of a former Churchwarden. During the last 20 years the building has been completely restored both inside and out; the slate roof has beenreplaced, using the original colours, and the walls cleaned to reveal their existing brickwork.The interior was completely stripped of 50 year old paint, again revealing the beauty of the original design .The interior has been re-arranged to provide a dignified liturgical space, adequate seating and flexible space for parish events.

Heating system specification 

Low pressure hot water system

Minster 33 colour coded radiators to blend with walls

Potterton condensing boiler with stainless steel heat exchanger

Churchwarden control system

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Christopher Dunphy Ecclesiastical Ltd
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