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St Michael and All Angels, Ladbroke Grove, Kensington, by James Edmeston Jr. and James Stanning Edmeston. 1870-71, with a north transept added in 1882. This view shows the unfinished south-west tower and the south porch. The church is of "London stock brick with terracotta, red Mansfield and Forest of Dean stone dressings" with clay roofing tiles (see Cherry and Pevsner 461). It is prominently situated on the corner of Ladbroke Grove and St Charles Square.

Left to right: (a) The apsed sanctuary at the east end. (b) The apsed baptistry at the west end. (c) The apsed south transept.

St Michael's is a Grade II listed building, an Anglo-Catholic church unusual in that its style is not Gothic but what has been aptly called "gritty Rhineland Romanesque" (Curl and Wilson 255). It has an apsed sanctuary, west baptistery and south transept. These features are pointed up outside with polychromatic brickwork under the semi-domed roofs and round the Romanesque arched windows, giving it a very distinctive air.


Left to right: (a) The tiled porch, with the arches round the door picked out to great effect. (b) Looking towards the east end, with its glowing, unusually ornate baroque reredos. (c) Looking into the north chapel.

Left to right: (a) The west end. (b) The apsed baptistery, with its assured and sturdy font. (c) Shrine of the Sacred Heart.

This is basically a simple hall church, without aisles, in which a dramatic effect has been achieved by bold contrasts. Structurally, the receding arches of the porch lead to a nave with wide wooden-ribbed roof, lined with arched windows (no tracery, of course), and then to the stone arches at the east end. These features all work well against the unbroken, unarcaded rectangular lines of the nave. The other accompanying contrasts come from the interior paintwork — not only the rich colours of the sanctuary and other apsidal spaces, but the white detailing, for example on the woodwork of the organ gallery and the underside of the north chapel arch. But it is the sanctuary that really does seem to glow when you enter the church.

This is one of those "colourful, zealous churches" that were built after the "correct, narrow and dull" churches of the earlier Victorian period (Saint 8); it was also built at a time when other styles besides the Gothic were being explored. The baroque element in the sanctuary is found in some of the fittings too, these ornate touches making another kind of statement to the devout, and (like the Romanesque exterior) looking forward to the Byzantine Revival of the later period.

Related Material


Cherry, Bridget, and Nikolaus Pevsner. London 4: North. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002.

"Church of St Michael and All Angels, Ladbroke Grove." Historic England. Web. 13 September 2015.

Curl, James Stevens, and Susan Wilson. Oxford Dictionary of Architecture. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

"Edmeston, James (1823-1898) Architect." The National Archives. Web. 13 September 2015.

Saint, Andrew. "The Late Victorian Church." The Victorian Society Studies in Architecture and Design, Volume Three: Churches 1870-1914. Eds. Teresa Sladen and Andrew Saint. London 2011. 7-25.

Stamp, Gavin. Gothic for the Steam Age: An Illustrated Biography of George Gilbert Scott. London: Aurum Press, 2015.

Created 13 September 2015