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Church of St Mary the Virgin, Haringey

Description: Church of St Mary the Virgin

Grade: II
Date Listed: 10 May 1974
English Heritage Building ID: 201420

OS Grid Reference: TQ3400690624
OS Grid Coordinates: 534006, 190624
Latitude/Longitude: 51.5985, -0.0666

Location: Lansdowne Road, Tottenham, Greater London N17 0AD

Locality: Haringey
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: N17 0AD

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Listing Text

800/17/146 LANSDOWNE ROAD N17
800/18/146 (South side)

(Formerly listed as:

1886-7 by J E K Cutts.

MATERIALS: Red Suffolk brick with Bath dressings. Slate roofs.

PLAN: Nave, chancel, N and S aisles, small NE porch, NW and SW porches with baptistery between, W meeting room, N chapel, SE transept/organ chamber and vestry.

EXTERIOR: St Mary's is built in the Early English style. Its main façade is that on the N side parallel with Lansdowne Road. This shows the five-bay nave, its lean-to aisle, the round-apsed N chapel under its separate gable, the roof of the chancel just slightly lower than that of the nave, and the complex set of structures at the W end, viz. the N porch leading to the baptistery, and the gable of the meeting room placed immediately to the W. The W end of the nave has square corner buttresses-cum-turrets which have slit openings at the top and are crowned by small pyramidal stone spirelets (similar turrets are placed at the E end of the nave). The W wall has pairs of tall narrow windows (each pair with a circular opening over them) flanking an even taller one which is set in a raised projection. This projection rises to turn into an octagonal bell turret which begins in brick and turns into a stone bell-stage with small single-light openings on each face: it is capped by a stone spirelet. The aisle bays are demarcated by buttresses with offsets, each bay having two small lancet windows. The nave clerestory, however, has three tall lancets per bay and flat pilasters marking out the bays. The N chapel has a single-light bellcote and a series of lancet windows. The chancel terminates in a three-sided apse each side of which has three graded lancets. The E face, in line with the chapel E end, bears the foundation stone recording its laying on 8 May 1886 by the Duchess of Albany. The S elevation is similar to that on the N except that the place of the chapel is taken by a large transept/organ chamber and, to the E of this, a small vestry with its own doorway under a shouldered lintel. At the E end of the aisle a doorway corresponds to the small NE porch.

INTERIOR: The interior walls have a plastered and whitened dado below sill level in the aisles and chapel, and elsewhere mostly exposed red brick or extensive wall paintings. The five-bay arcade to the nave has moulded red brick arches, round stone piers, reeded and fluted capitals and moulded bases. There are three arches on either side of the chancel again with moulded arches but with octagonal piers, moulded capitals and bases. At the W end three similar arches separate the nave from the baptistery, although the central arch is higher and wider than the side ones. The nave roof has tie-beams and crown posts.

St Mary's contains an extensive series of wall paintings by Heaton, Butler and Bayne and executed over a long period extending into the early 20th century. In the nave the main scheme on the N and S spandrels, painted between 1888 and 1911, depicts Old and New Testament Types and Anti-types in quattrocento style and with figures standing under arches. Over the arcade to the baptistery is the Presentation which was `almost complete' on the opening of the church in 1887. Over the chancel arch is a Crucifixion scene dating from shortly after the opening of the church. Further paintings in the chancel continue the biblical scenes: the Annunciation and Nativity were `nearly finished' when the church was opened. In the baptistry is a picture of Christ and the Children. The roof of the chapel apse was decorated over a number of years with biblical scenes in the Edwardian years.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The most impressive feature is the alabaster reredos which was designed by J E K Cutts in 1908 and carved by Harry Hems of Exeter. It was given in memory of the first vicar, E Noel Smith (d 1908). The main panels show the Crucifixion and Entombment which are flanked by numerous saints. To the N of the sanctuary is the tomb chest and effigy of Noel Smith. The figure is of alabaster and the chest is of stone. It was also sculpted by Hems. The circular font is a fine piece with an alabaster bowl and base with a Purbeck marble stem: the bowl is carved with large quatrefoils which include foliage and a dove descending. Between the nave and chancel is a First World War memorial timber screen of 1921 with wide, open lights and a loft on top. The square timber pulpit with traceried sides and standing on legs was brought here from Marlborough College. The stalls have pierced, traceried fronts and backs. The nave and S aisle seating has good, chaste detail: it has open backs and kneeling boards but no enclosing ends. The benches have been removed from the N aisle, much of the S aisle and the E part of the nave. The Stations of the Cross came from St Paul, Dock Street, in Whitechapel which closed in 1990. There is extensive stained glass by Heaton, Butler and Bayne. The E lancet in the chapel was given by J E K and J P Cutts, 1887, as the inscription records.

HISTORY: The archdeacon of Middlesex, signing the application for funds from the Incorporated Church Building Society in 1885, remarked that he knew of no place in England that had increased in population as much as Tottenham. In 1861 it had 13,000 people, in 1871 23,000 and now `quite 70,000'. The need for church accommodation was pressing and St Mary's was one of several (usually, as here, Anglo-Catholic) churches in London established with assistance from a public school. In this case it was Marlborough College. The Marlborough mission originated after a visit by the bishop of Bedford, William Walsham How, to the college when the masters and boys agreed to provide £150 a year for the maintenance of a missionary clergyman in Tottenham. Around 1882 they came up with £1,800 for a permanent church site on which a permanent church was to be built to replace a temporary iron church. The foundation stone was laid on 8 May 1886 and the consecration took place on 28 April the following year. Practically the whole of the front page of the Marlborough Times for 7 May 1887 was taken up with the event and a report of the building. It noted that the builder was J Holloway of Lavender Hill and that the clerk of works was a W J Llewellyn Wilson. An extensive scheme of painting was evidently intended from the outset as the paper said that it was `hoped to paint fresco pictures in the spandrels of the various arches and over the chancel arch'.

The architect, John Edward Knight Cutts (1847-1938), was articled to the well-known and prolific church architect Ewan Christian from 1865 to 1870 after which he set up in independent practice. His younger brother, John Priston (1854-1935), was articled to him in 1877, remained as an assistant and became a partner about 1890. Cutts senior was diocesan surveyor for St Albans in 1881-7. The firm developed a busy church architecture practice in and around London and specialised in generously proportioned economical buildings, often of red brick as here, to meet the great demand for new churches in the area at the end of the C19.

Incorporated Church Building Society papers, Lambeth Palace Library, file 9043 (includes a copy of the Marlborough Times front page for 7 May 1887).
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 4: North, 1999, pp 573-4.
Anon., The Parish Church of S. Mary the Virgin, Lansdowne Road, Tottenham, typescript, c2008.

The church of St Mary the Virgin is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is of special interest as a red-brick, Early English, late Victorian church built to supply urgently needed Anglican church accommodation in a rapidly expanding suburb. It was built economically but is still a building of some distinction, the architect being J E K Cutts who specialised in such churches in late 19th- and early 20th-century London.
* The fittings were added over a long period of time and there are a number of very good items, notably the reredos and font, and tomb effigy.
* There is also an unusually extensive set of wall and roof paintings in the nave, baptistry, chancel and chapel, and well executed by the leading church decoration firm of Heaton, Butler and Bayne: It is of sufficient note to warrant listing the church (which is otherwise of special, but not higher, interest) in an upper grade.
* It is also of interest as being one of a number of Anglo-Catholic missionary endeavours by leading public schools in London, in this case Marlborough College.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.