Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The restoration of a hidden gem

Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane
An ambitious restoration project is underway in one of London’s most beautiful churches. Often referred to as the ‘hidden gem’ of the West End, Corpus Christi, Maiden Lane, in the Archdiocese of Westminster, was founded in 1873 and consecrated on the 20th of October 1874. During his homily at the opening Mass, the Archbishop of Westminster, Henry Cardinal Manning, declared that ‘a sanctuary has been opened to be specifically devoted to the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament’.

The restoration project is being led by the Parish Priest, Father Alan Robinson and the architect Anthony Delarue. The plans include a new floor for the nave, the cleaning of the roof timbers and the restoration of the entire fabric of the church interior. Some work has already been completed, such as the Sacred Heart Chapel and its newly-cleaned stained glass windows (pictured below). This work, and the restoration of the Narthex, has been generously supported by Viridor Credits Environmental Company. Work yet to take place includes redesigning and decorating the Sanctuary and Lady Chapel and installing new altar rails. The Lady Chapel (see architect's drawing at the bottom of the post) is based on the Holy House of Loreto and will contain a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Sacred Heart Chapel
This was the first church in England to be dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament after the Reformation. The famous hymns Sweet Sacrament Divine and O Sacred Heart were written by the Parish Priest Father Francis Stanfield (1835-1914). It is also known as ‘The Actors' Church’ and is the home of the Catholic Association of the Performing Arts (formerly, the Catholic Stage Guild). For decades the Latin Mass Society has also celebrated Mass here.

A famous visitor to the parish over many years was Monsignor Ronald Knox. He first preached his Forty Hours Sermon at Corpus Christi in 1926, at the invitation of Father Kearney. This became a regular feature in Monsignor Knox's diary from 1926 until 1956. These sermons were published by Burns & Oates in 1956 under the title ‘The Window in the Wall’, and the charming and touching dedication of this book is, ‘To the memory of Father Kearney and to his successors.’

If you are able to donate to this wonderful restoration project, please click here.

Architect's drawing of the new Lady Altar

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