Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Sacred Heart (RC), Wimbledon

The Sacred Heart is Wimbledon's Catholic parish church and a prominent landmark on the ridge between Wimbledon and Raynes Park.

The church was funded by Edith Arendrup, a member of the Courtauld family who, having moved to Wimbledon, persuaded the Jesuits to begin a mass at her home in 1877. Seven years later she paid for the building of the present church, to designs by the architect Fredrick Walters (1849-1931), who also designed Buckfast Abbey. The nave was completed in 1887 and the rest of the building by 1901. A planned tower was replaced by twin turrets flanking the west front.

The exterior is of knapped flints with stone dressings. Designed in the decorated Gothic style, the interior resembles an abbey: an aisled nave, beneath a tall clerestory, leads to a chancel with an ambulatory and radiating chapels. The dimensions are impressive: the nave is 100ft long and 60ft high. The arcades carry niches with saints connected with the Jesuit Order. The church has numerous late Victorian and 20th century fittings, the best of which are found in the St Ignatius Chapel in the north aisle.

The church normally has three daily masses (six on a Sunday, plus a Saturday night vigil mass) and is the centre of a vibrant parish life.

 Edge Hill, Wimbledon, London SW19 4LU

St John the Baptist, Peterborough

St John's is Peterborough's parish church, and sits in the centre of Cathedral Square, a few minutes' walk from the Cathedral.

Although Peterborough has had a parish church since the 11th century, flooding of the original site to the east of the abbey led to it being rebuilt in 1402 on the present site, and it was dedicated in 1407. It was much restored in the Victorian period, by the architect J L Pearson, architect of Truro Cathedral. The north porch dates from 1473.

Its bells sounded for the funerals of both Katharine of Aragon (1536) and Mary, Queen of Scots (1587) in the cathedral. The church sexton, Robert Scarlett, buried both Queens, and is himself buried in the cathedral, having died in 1594 at the age of 98. A portrait of him hangs at the west end of the cathedral.

The exterior is largely in the Perpendicular Gothic style, church itself has a long nave arcade and aisles, with a chancel and Lady Chapel, but no crossing. The most prominent external feature is the tower. The 15th century south porch is the best preserved part of the building, and its vault has attractive bosses depicting the Trinity, Annunciation and Crucifixion.

Furnishings of interest (most are Victorian or 20th century) include a 15th century font, and two rare framed examples of 15th century embroidery, probably from church vestments. The monument to the local MP, Matthew Wyldbore, d. 1781, is the most impressive of several in the church.

The church is open twice a week with a cafe at the west end, as well for services, which are traditional in style.

Church Street, Cathedral Square, Peterborough PE1 1XB