Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Italianate Architecture in Surbiton, England: St. Raphael's

Fr. Tim Finigan of The Hermeneutic of Continuity recently shared news of a university chaplaincy parish offering a Low Mass in the usus antiquior on the Feast of the Sacred Heart to celebrate the beginning of the 'Year of the Priesthood' called by Pope Benedict XVI.

That is interesting enough, particularly because of its university tie, but it was the splendid and enchanting architecture of the church itself which most caught my attention. The church is that of St. Raphael's in Surbiton, England, and is built in an Italianate style which we don't see particularly often here.

The church was designed by the architect Charles Parker and was entirely funded by one Alexander Raphael, a Catholic Armenian whose family came from India. Of Mr. Alexander we are told that "he became the first Roman Catholic to be elected Sheriff of London after the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829" and that he "built the Church in 1846 as a family chapel..." The construction of St. Raphael's was completed in 1848. "His nephew, Edward, inherited the property and opened it to the public as the first Catholic church in Kingston... Through successive bequests, the Church and land became the property of Captain Hon. George Savile, brother to the Sixth Earl of Mexborough, a Yorkshire family... The church was sold to the Diocese of Southwark after the Second World War..." The church is now a part of the chaplaincy of Kingston University and is situated on the Thames.


While my own focus is particularly on the external structure, I am certain many will be very interested in the interior as well:

A very fine specimen of sacred architecture.

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