The Vision for the St Mary Mags project is to unite this splendid old Church with a new Learning and Heritage Centre so it can once more fulfill the social, cultural and historical role intended by its founders.
St Mary Magdalene’s Church is a Grade 1 Listed building, with national and even international recognition, but it is currently on the Buildings at Risk Register. The construction of the church, completed in 1878, was motivated by the needs for social improvement as much as a spiritual mission. It was built to be the centre of the mainly poor community and had a congregation of over 400. However now the Church is cut off from the local community and has a small congregation of around 30. This is partly a result of the 1960s slum clearance of the church’s neighbouring housing and also because rapid changes in the nature of the local population have meant the church is less used.
The building’s physical recovery needs to go hand-in-hand with revitalising and reinventing its mission. The ambition of the St Mary Mags Project is to secure the Church’s future as a living place of worship as well as to enable it to fulfil much wider social and cultural needs. Echoing the intentions of its founders, the new St Mary Mags Project would give the church a transformative role in the life of its community through offering education, training, community events, art and cultural activities and the chance to get new job skills. The vision therefore is to create a lively interaction between the church, with its splendid interior and interesting history, and activities in a new build Heritage Centre at the church’s west end which will be crammed with learning opportunities and cultural events for local children and adults as well as for those with a professional interest in art and history.
Our objectives are:
- To conserve the Church.
- To interpret and explain the Church’s spiritual and cultural significance, alongside the story of Paddington.
- To enable more people, and a wider range of people, to come to St Mary Mags.
- To make a real difference to people’s lives – through learning, volunteering, skills training and other activities both in the church and in the learning centre.
- To bring together different people and cultures; fostering inter-cultural understanding and a sense of belonging, and identity, and citizenship.
- To stimulate pride in the local neighbourhood, and contribute to the regeneration of Paddington
This is an ambitious project and it has taken many years to develop and many voices to shape it to the stage now where architects’ plans have been submitted to Westminster Council’s Planning Department. (To learn more about the development and funding of the project, please go to the project page).
Local people have had their say since the start and consultation events have uncovered a very high degree of support for the vision behind the project, especially for its potential to help unite the community. Their views have helped shape both the physical design for the new building and the kinds of activities planned for it.