St Paul's Church, Harringay

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St Paul's, Harringay
Parish Church of St Paul the Apostle
St Paul's Church, Harringay, as seen in June 2007
Country United Kingdom
Denomination Church of England
Tradition Traditional Catholic
Architect(s) Peter Inskipp and Peter Jenkins
Style A modern interpretation of a classical Greek megaron[1]
Parish Harringay
Deanery East Haringey
Archdeaconry Hampstead
Episcopal area Edmonton
Diocese Diocese of London
Province Canterbury
Priest in charge Fr Tim Pike CMP
Assistant priest

Fr Eric Lobsinger

Fr Patrick Henderson
Organist(s) Bethany Burrow Atherton

The Church of St Paul the Apostle, Wightman Road, Harringay, London, N4, serves a traditional Anglo-Catholic (Church of England) parish in north London. In ecclesiastical terms the parish is part of the Edmonton Episcopal Area of the Diocese of London. In political terms the parish is in the London Borough of Haringey.

In 1984 the nineteenth-century church building was destroyed by fire, and the present iconic building was opened in 1993, designed by London architects Peter Inskipp and Peter Jenkins.

The parish of Harringay is situated at one corner of what was formerly part of Hornsey parish, adjacent to Stoke Newington parish.

1883: the first parish church[edit]

Image of St. Paul's church, Wightman Road, Harringay, London, N4; as seen c. 1930.

On 28 June 1892 the ecclesiastical Parish of St. Paul's Harringay was formed out of Holy Trinity Stroud Green, St. Anne's Stamford Hill, and St. Mary's Hornsey. The living was £387 net per year, with benefice.[2]

In 1883, the Reverend Joshua Greaves was appointed vicar, and found at Harringay a fast-growing housing estate rapidly covering open spaces and fields, but no church building. A temporary tin hut mission church was opened for worship on 23 December when there were six communicants and a collection of 14s 3d. The temporary church stood in Burgoyne Road.[3]

The digging of the ground preparatory to building the first permanent church began on Tuesday 20 May 1890, and the foundation stone was laid by Lady Louisa Wolseley (1843–1920) on Saturday 31 May 1890. The church was consecrated on 1 October 1891, by Dr. Frederick Temple, then the Bishop of London.

The building described[edit]

The new church was designed by the London architect George Michael Silley (b. 1834),[4] and was built of red brick with Carsham-stone dressing, topped with a flèche. The building was in the style of 13th-century English Gothic architecture. It was constructed of Peterborough red brick with Bracknell stone dressings, with a chancel, south-east chapel and bell-cot, north vestries, and an aisled and clerestoried nave of six bays with north-west and south-west porches. When built the church seated 700.[3] (NB The chancel and Lady Chapel, both in a later Decorated English Gothic style, were not completed until 1903).

At the entrance to the chancel was an open, oak screen, and in the chancel itself were the choir stalls arranged collegiate fashion, leading up to an altar. A magnificent organ was made by J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd, and was latterly maintained by Hill, Norman and Beard Ltd., of Hornsey.[5] The church's stained glass windows were designed by John Byam Liston Shaw (1872–1919).

The chancel of St. Paul's church, Harringay, as seen before its destruction by fire in 1984

The total length of nave and chancel when completed was 130 feet (39.62400 metres); the width was 28 feet (8.5344 metres). The height from floor level was 37 feet (11.2776 metres). The building held 900 people.

A church hall was built in Cavendish Road, N4, and in 1903 a new vicarage was built next to the church.

Joshua Greaves remained the Vicar for 40 years, until 1923. The incumbents succeeding him were, in chronological order: Appleton, Warren, Brassel, Cowen, Bond, Barraclough, Lloyd, Seeley, and Martin.

In 1932 were installed a new marble altar, marble font, and marble reredos with a statue of Christ and other stone figures, all designed by Nugent Cachemaille Day (1896–1976). (The font was a war memorial to the fallen of the 1914-18 war).

On 7 March 1984 - during Seeley's incumbency - the church's roof caught fire, caused by the negligence of workmen then repairing it[citation needed]. The fire spread, and the church was destroyed.

1993: the current building[edit]

As can be judged by the images shown here, the interior of the church conveys a certain ordered calm that might be seen by some as sterile. It has been described as evoking "a numinous presence".[6]

In furnishing the new church there has been a significant investment in late twentieth-century British artworks, with the commissioning of pieces from four British artists who were working at the time of the building's creation, namely: the sculptors Danny Clahane, Stephen Cox, and Anton Wagner, and the furniture maker John Makepeace.

Cox has provided the great shield-shaped reredos on the east wall, made from enamelled metal and stone; the monumental altar table, and font (each made from Egyptian Imperial porphyry);[7] and several porphyry candle holders, from the same source. Some of these are used on the altar, while others stand next to each of the three statues contained in the church.

The simple and restrained stone statues of St. Paul and of St. Anthony are by Danny Clahane,[7] while the traditional Walsingham-style, painted wooden figure of the Virgin Mary is by Anton Wagner.[8]

John Makepeace has contributed a one-metre-high alms box, carved from a single piece of solid oak with distinctive deep-ridged ziggurat patterns on all four sides.[9]

The mechanical-action organ was designed and built by Richard Bower, to fit within the organ case designed by the church's architects.[10]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Clare Melhuish, 'Clare Melhuish reports on the new church', Church Building, Summer 1990, 48.
  2. ^ All the early history, unless otherwise indicated, is based on the unpublished parish history, kept in the church
  3. ^ a b T F T Baker, C R Elrington (Editors), A P Baggs, Diane K Bolton, M A Hicks, R B Pugh (Eds), (1980)'Hornsey, including Highgate: Churches', A History of the County of Middlesex, "harringay" (Volume 6: Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey with Highgate), 172-182, accessed 1 May 2009
  4. ^ It now seems that Silley may have murdered his wife Elizabeth on Christmas Day, 1902, the period when St Paul's was being completed, according to a news item by Marcello Mega, published in The Scotsman of 6 May 2007 as 'Her death wasn't an accident or even suicide - it was murder', <>, accessed 8 April 2009
  5. ^ For details see the entry in the National Pipe Organ Register <>, accessed 8 April 2009
  6. ^ Robert Maxwell (1993)'Sacred Space: Inskipp and Jenkins in Harringey' [sic], Architecture Today, 36-41, 37.
  7. ^ a b Diane Smith, (Ed), (!994), 'Spiritual Elevation', Brick Bulletin 18-20, 19.
  8. ^ The association of Wagner's name with this statue is taken from the unpublished Notes for Visitors, to be found in the church itself
  9. ^ These details are taken from the unpublished Notes for Visitors to be found in the church itself
  10. ^ See details at the National Pipe Organ register, link was live 1 May 2009

Coordinates: 51°34′42″N 0°06′14″W / 51.5784°N 0.1039°W / 51.5784; -0.1039