A fundraising appeal has been launched to secure the future of one of England’s most magical churches, St Mary Magdalene’s, Paddington, London.
The Grade 1 Listed church is on Historic England’s Buildings At Risk Register. A £6.8m project has been prepared to repair and conserve the church and build a new Heritage Centre alongside it. £4.3m has already been identified from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Westminster Council and others, leaving an appeal target of £2.5m.
Launching the appeal at a reception at the church on 28 October, the project’s Patron, the now late John Julius Norwich, reminded guests that ‘St Mary Mags’ was championed by Sir John Betjeman, who judged it to be the finest church to be built by the great Victorian architect GE Street. Street meant his church to bring something heavenly into what was (and in parts still is) one of London’s poorest neighbourhoods; and he worked with the best artists of his day to orchestrate a complete decorative scheme of the highest quality. Today’s project seeks to rediscover and reinvent the transformative power of this remarkable building – as a creative oasis serving some of the poorest and richest communities in London.
The vision of a restored St Mary Mags is of a place that helps shape and share common values in 21st century London. This project will sustain an active church that provides a window to English art, culture and history. It will provide a living heritage learning centre for volunteers, young people and local families who’ve come from all over the world. It will provide London with a new affordable arts venue which will serve a wide range of audiences both locally and City-wide.
Through a partnership with Paddington Development Trust the project will pioneer new ways for churches to be points of focus and activity for community life in the 21st century. It is one of the first arising out of new Church legislation that seeks to encourage wider community use.
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View more images below from the ‘St Mary Mags appeal’ reception held at the church on the 28th October 2015