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Church of the Ascension, Lewisham

Description: Church of the Ascension

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 30 August 1954
English Heritage Building ID: 203257

OS Grid Reference: TQ3841276509
OS Grid Coordinates: 538412, 176509
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4706, -0.0086

Location: Dartmouth Row, Lewisham, Greater London SE10 8AW

Locality: Lewisham
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: SE10 8AW

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Listing Text

30-AUG-54 (East side)

1690s origins; nave rebuilt in the 1830s; E parts perhaps date from a rebuilding of c1750. Architects unknown. Some reconstruction and restoration after World War Two damage under Robert Potter, 1950.

MATERIALS: Stock brick with stone dressings. Slate roofs.

PLAN: Nave, chancel, vestries and parish rooms at E end.

EXTERIOR: The church has a five bay, rectangular, aisleless nave in the classical style, with tall round-arched windows linked by a stringcourse which passes over their heads. The W end which fronts directly on to the pavement is broad, symmetrical and has a centre portion that breaks forward slightly. The central doorway has a pediment over it and is flanked by broad pilasters each containing a tall, narrow window. These pilasters have cornices which are linked by a semi-circular arch with a keystone. This centre of the W end is crowned by a pediment containing a circular window. Above the pediment is a timber cupola with an ogee-shaped lead capping. The side bays of the W front each have a rectangular doorway above which are tall round-arched windows which, in their proportions and the hood over them, mirror the windows of the side elevation. The roof has shallow hipping and below the eaves on the N, S and W faces there is a modillion cornice below the eaves. The E end of the church is largely concealed behind parish rooms etc. The church sits in between Spencer and Perceval Houses on the N and Dartmouth House (the former home of the earls of Dartmouth) to the S, which are elegant brick residences of the late 17th century and the mid-18th century respectively.

INTERIOR: The walls are plastered and whitened. The nave is a plain rectangular space covered by a flat plastered ceiling. In the NW and SW corners are concealed staircases leading to the W gallery. The chancel lies beyond an opening with a segmental head and consists of a single bay with an apse beyond it. There are three openings to the apse, that in the centre a round-arched one with three cherubs heads on the key-block. At each side is an opening with a fluted Corinthian column and a fluted pilaster as a respond: the column and respond are spanned by an entablature. The apse is covered by a plastered, coffered semi-dome with plaster enrichment.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The principal items are the W gallery with a panelled front and supported in four columns, and the plain 18th-century pulpit. The gallery houses a modern organ. The seats, which still bear their brass numbers, are Victorian, as is the octagonal stone font which has foliage decoration on the panels of the bowl

HISTORY: The chapel was founded by Mrs Susannah Graham late in the 17th century. It was then rebuilt about 1750 by the 1st earl of Dartmouth, a descendant of Mrs Graham. Further rebuilding took place in the 1830s (1834 in RCHM; 1838-9 in Cherry and Pevsner) just leaving, probably, parts of the E end from the 18th-century building. At this time there were galleries on three sides of the nave. In 1883 the building was consecrated as the church of the Ascension and given its own parish. Wartime damage led to further reconstruction work in 1950. The N and S galleries were removed as was much of the 19th-century wall-painting and stained glass. In the 1990s the former organ chamber (N) was turned into a vicar's vestry and a new organ was installed in the W gallery. The stalls have been removed from the chancel to create more space for concerts etc.

Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South, 1983, pp 413
Royal Commission on Historic Monuments (England), An Inventory of the Historical monuments in London, vol 5, 1930, p 49. (viewed at June 2009)

The church of The Ascension is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* It is of considerable interest as a remarkably elegant classical Anglican chapel of the 1830s and which probably incorporates part of the structure of its 18th-century predecessor at the E end.
* The church has an unusual history, dating back to the late C17.
* It has strong Group Value with its flanking houses.

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.