The St Mary Magdalene’s Project is a partnership between Paddington Development Trust and St Mary Magdalene’s Church. It will:
- Restore the nationally important grade 1 listed church
- Open spring 2019 as a heritage, community, and arts hub, to enrich and regenerate the local area, while continuing to be a place of worship.
- The new Heritage and Community Wing will provide a learning space, and a café with a canal-side terrace.
- A new space bustling with cultural activities for the local community and beyond.
A restoration for the community
10 minutes’ walk from Paddington Station, beside the Grand Union Canal, St Mary Magdalene’s Church is one of the finest neo-Gothic churches in the country.
Grade 1 Listed, it was built in the 1860s and 70s by the great Victorian architect G E Street, who orchestrated the very best artists and craftsmen of the day to produce a masterwork combining architecture, sculpture, stained glass, and arguably the most remarkable painted ceiling in an English parish church.
From the mid-20th century the building fell into decline and disrepair; for many years it has been classified as ‘at risk’ by Historic England.
To have a secure future St Mary Magdalene’s needs to become again a vibrant, valued place. Over the last decade the church has developed a partnership with a secular local charity, Paddington Development Trust and today, after years of planning, an ambitious project is being put into effect. This has three aims: to establish St Mary Magdalene’s as a new destination for arts and culture; to keep the church open as a living place of worship; and, reprising its original mission, to help address the deprivation of the immediate community, which is still one of London’s poorest.
The project aims to lift the local area, physically and psychologically. At the heart of this is the idea of bringing together different communities, bridging some of the parallel worlds of 21st century London.
A centre for community and culture
Through the years the vision and plans for St Mary Magdalene’s have been profoundly shaped by the community, and have evolved to offer a deep-level response to local needs.
We are preparing an activity and volunteering programme to run from spring 2019, designed to improve wellbeing and to enable people to access opportunities that allow them to progress in life.
The programme will encompass community events and activities, courses, work placements, traineeships, and new volunteering roles in customer service, research, and facilities management. Primary and secondary schools nearest the church will have regular access to our heritage environment and new resources for curriculum delivery. We will employ a Young People and Families Programme Coordinator, and are planning targeted interventions to benefit children and young people and their parents.
Whilst the project is rooted in our neighbourhood we are determined that it should open doors to a wider world, helping to overcome the cultural as well as social and economic barriers faced by many in the local area. St Mary Magdalene’s offers an inspiring environment in which we will grow a cultural programme appealing to new visitors and audiences.