Monday, 2 January 2012

St Michael, Camden

St Michael's is the parish church of Camden, and is located (though easily missed) next to Sainsbury's. It has a lively congregation and an active social outreach into the local community.

History

The nave was built in 1880-1 and the sanctuary in 1893-4 to plans by the prolific church architect George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907) and Thomas Garner, with whom he had a 28-year professional partnership. A planned tower was never built. St Michael's subsumed the parish of All Saints in the 1950s, and since 2003 has been part of a team ministry with St Pancras Old Church, St Mary's Somers Town and St Paul's Camden Square.

The church

The church is orientated north-south, with the liturgical west end facing the road. The church is built of yellow stock brick with stone dressings in the Decorated Gothic style. Both the west window and the clerestory windows over the aisles have delicate geometric tracery and have recently been restored.

Inside, the stone-lined interior consists of a nave of 5 bays, which draws the eye to the large sanctuary: Bodley did not include a chancel arch in the scheme, so the nave and sanctuary form a single, unified space. The height of the nave is emphasised by the fact that the floor is lower than the street outside. There is a small stone-vaulted chapel to the north of the sanctuary.

The interior has interesting decorative stencilling, but is generally in need of some restoration. Fittings and furnishings include the original altar of 1880, and a selection of statues, some in the pre-Raphaelite style (though that of St George dates from 1939); an attractive coloured pulpit; a marble altar and Easter Sepulchre in the north chapel; and a brass to Edward Bainbridge Reynolds, incumbent, who died in 1907.

The church has a flourishing congregation, with worship in the Anglo-Catholic tradition, and the adjacent centre provides a range of outreach services for the local community.

Camden Road, Camden, London NW1 9LQ

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