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/ 29 November 2017

St Mary Magdalene Church Breaks New Ground

People attending the a special ground-breaking celebration.

The Acting Bishop of London recently took part in a special ground-breaking celebration, marking a major milestone in the National Lottery Funded redevelopment project at St Mary Magdalene Church in Paddington.

The ground-breaking event is the culmination of ten years of fundraising and planning between St Mary Magdalene Church, and the Paddington Development Trust and marks the beginning of construction work to create a new annex which will serve as a hub for community, heritage and cultural activities. The project was awarded a National Lottery grant of £3.6million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) in 2016.

The ground-breaking celebration saw Bishop Pete Broadbent lead the attendees in prayer, while the project patron John Julius Norwich also spoke of the historic social mission of the church which was shared by its original architects and is once again reflected in the new development project.

Local pupils from St Mary Magdalene Primary School presented a time capsule containing items chosen from each class at the school, such as poems, predictions, and facts about their lives in 2017, which was buried in in the grounds of the new annex.

The Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden and Acting Bishop of London said:

“I was delighted to take part in St Mary Magdalene Church’s ground-breaking celebration which not only marks the end of ten years of preparation, but also the beginning of the next chapter in the long life of this historic church in the heart of central London.”

Fr Henry Everett, Vicar of St. Mary Magdalene Church said:

“The great joy of having a church completely full of scaffolding is that every time I go in I see something beautiful or extraordinary that I’ve never seen before. It is so exciting to be starting the conservation work which will reveal the true beauty of St Mary Magdalene’s, and the new building, which will enable us to do so much more in our service to the local community.”

Neil Johnston, Chief Executive, Paddington Development Trust said:

“PDT has long understood the potential of St Mary Mags – as well as transforming the building, this is about change for individuals, change for the community and ultimately change for London. This is a very special building that both local people and London artists and creators will make their own. We will be running new educational, arts and cultural programmes and activities when we open next year, so watch this space!”

The construction of the new church annex – carried out by Lengard Ltd – is expected to take twelve months and once complete the new facilities will allow St Mary Magdalene to a play a key role in community life, just as it had before the old housing which made up its parish was swept away following the Second World War to make way for the Warwick Estate in the 1950s and 60s.

Designed by Dow Jones Architects, the new facilities will feature a learning space, and a café opening onto the Grand Union canal; a cultural venue with a rich and varied programme of events; and an affordable flexible space for use by local groups and residents. The new facilities and the church itself will also provide an extensive learning and training programme environment. There will be:

  • A changing programme of events, including drop-in family activities and heritage-focussed lunch club sessions in the new café for older people.
  • Formal training opportunities including apprenticeships and work placements; as well as English classes and sessions in history, architecture and art.
  • 200 volunteering opportunities suiting different interests including research, conservation, and customer service.

In addition to increasing the church’s community provision, the development project will also support the restoration of the church building, led by Lengard Ltd with the assistance of specialists Cliveden Conservation. Works underway include specialist cleaning to reveal the church’s remarkable ceiling paintings; and, local people have also been volunteering to play a hands-on part in the ambitious programme.

St Mary Magdalene Church is a Grade 1 listed church and currently on the Historic England ‘at risk’ register. The National Lottery funded project will help restore the church’s historic fabric, significantly extending the life of the building and ensuring that St Mary Magdalene can continue in its traditional role as a place of worship.

Whilst retaining use for worship, the parish is also granting Paddington Development Trust a lease to manage the building, a pioneering use of new church legislation which allows consecrated churches to be leased to community organisations.

The St Mary Magdalene Development Project has progressed to this point through numerous donations and grants. This includes generous support from the National Lottery through a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant of £3.6million, Westminster City Council, and other grant-making trusts, including Power to Change, John Lyon’s Charity, City Bridge Trust, and Allchurches Trust. The overall cost of the project is estimated at £7.3 million. Fundraising continues to complete the target.

Those seeking more information, or wishing to donate, can visit the project website at http://marymags.org.uk/.

The project’s funders include: the Heritage Lottery Fund, the City of Westminster, Power to Change, Dangoor Education, John Lyon’s Charity, City Bridge Trust, Allchurches Trust, the National Churches Trust, Coles-Medlock Foundation,  the Pilgrim Trust, the War Memorial Trust,  Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement, the John Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust, the Welton Foundation, the Tudor Trust, and generous private donors.

For further information please contact the Diocese of London media team.

Photos credited to Gabby Ritchie

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