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Church of Leonard, Lambeth

Description: Church of Leonard

Grade: II
Date Listed: 14 July 1955
English Heritage Building ID: 204701

OS Grid Reference: TQ2998671715
OS Grid Coordinates: 529986, 171715
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4295, -0.1316

Location: Tooting Bec Gardens, Lambeth, Greater London SW16 1RB

Locality: Lambeth
Local Authority: Lambeth Borough Council
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: SW16 1RB

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Listing Text

963/33/943 STREATHAM HIGH ROAD SW16
963/34/943 (West side)
14-JUL-1955 CHURCH OF LEONARD

GV II

Church, c1350 and later including work by J T Parkinson in 1831, William Dyce in 1863, and (following a major fire) the Douglas Feast Partnership in 1975-7.

PLAN: Rectangular with aisles, western tower, chancel and two side chapels, formerly vestries. Crypt.

EXTERIOR: The lower parts of the tower, of knapped flint with stone dressings, are C14, as is the western doorway and tower arch. The upper storeys and spire date from a restoration of 1841. The brick nave, clad in stucco, has Decorated tracery and dates from 1831. The stone chancel, in an Early English style with a steep slate roof, dates from 1863 and the vestries from 1877.

INTERIOR: A narthex has been created just east of the tower by the insertion of a wall in what was quite a long nave. A staircase here provides access to the gallery and a mezzanine inserted in 1975-7. The nave retains the cast iron piers of the 1831 work which now support a gallery (on three sides) of 1975-7. The 1970s work also involved new seating, organ, paved stone floor (into which are incorporated older ledger stones), Chapel of Unity at the west end of the south aisle and clerestory lights in the nave and chancel. The chancel, originally designed by Dyce, retains its arcade of columns with stiff-leaf capitals but only fragments of his colourful painted scheme which was largely destroyed, along with the choir stalls, rood screen and altar furniture, in 1975. Fittings of note include a C15 octagonal font, restored after the 1975 fire, and stained glass by John Hayward of the late C20.

MONUMENTS: In the chancel, a brass to William Mowfurth d.1513 and a mutilated figure of a knight, perhaps Sir John Ward, under a C14 canopy; in the Chapel of Unity, a late C14 or early C15 brass to John Elslefeld and a colourful alabaster monument to Edmund Tylney, d.1610; in the north aisle the Thrale memorials with epithets by Dr Johnson; in the vaulted tower porch an early C17 monument to Massingberd family with facing kneeling figures and a fine late C17 baroque monument to the Howland family. There are other monuments, listed in the Buildings of England volume, London South (1983) 390-1.

SUBSIDARY FEATURES: The churchyard contains four listed tombs: monument to George Abell, d.1826; monument to Joseph Hay, d.1805; monument to Lt. Col. William Boyce, d.1808; monument to Thomas Helps d.1842 and his family (all Grade II).

HISTORY: The Church of St Leonard, Streatham, dates from the C14, although there has been a church on this site since at least the Norman Conquest. The oldest part of the current building, the tower, is the only surviving fabric from the church built by Sir John Ward, a friend of the Black Prince with whom he fought at Crecy, in c1350. The effigy of a knight at the east end, dating from the C14, may be Ward's.

In 1778, the spire was added and then reconstructed in 1841. In 1831 the nave was rebuilt, an apse added at the east end and a crypt dug out, all to the design of J T Parkinson. The chancel was rebuilt in 1863 by William Dyce RA, a churchwarden and member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The most recent episode in the building's history was the destruction of most of the nave, the interior woodwork, the roof, and the bells by a fire on the evening of 5 May 1975. The Douglas Feast Partnership designed a new interior within the shell of the C19 walls in 1975-7.

The church is associated with the Thrales: Henry, a wealthy brewer and MP for Southwark, and his wife Hester who were great friends of Dr Samuel Johnson and often entertained him at nearby Streatham Place. Several of the family are interred in the crypt, having been moved here in 1831 from their vault under the floor of the older church, and memorials for Henry and his mother-in-law survive in the north aisle, both with Latin epitaphs by Dr Johnson.

SOURCES: B Cherry and N Pevsner, Buildings of England London 2: South (1983); http://www.stleonard-streatham.org.uk/

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The church of St Leonard, Streatham is listed in Grade II for the following principal reasons
* the lower storey of the tower is medieval, the only surviving fabric of the c1350 church;
* the subsequent work is also of special architectural interest including that of J T Parkinson in 1831, William Dyce in 1863, and the Douglas Feast Partnership in 1975-7;
* there are a number of fine memorials dating from the C14 to the C19, several of which are of particular note, and a C15 octagonal font.

Listing NGR: TQ2998671715

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.