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Church is consecrated after £3m restoration

St Raphael’s church in Kingston, southwest London, is consecrated for the first time after a 10-year restoration programme

By on Friday, 5 October 2012

The newly restored St Raphael's church in Kingston, southwest London (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

The newly restored St Raphael's church in Kingston, southwest London (Photo: Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

St Raphael’s church in Kingston, southwest London, has celebrated its first ever consecration to mark the end of a restoration project spanning nearly 10 years.

Alexander Raphael first founded the church as a family chapel in 1848. After his death, his nephew Edward opened it as the first Catholic church in Kingston, but it was never consecrated.

Fr Vincent Flynn, parish priest and chaplain to Kingston University, said: “The consecration of a church is the most solemn and important event in the history of any parish. The ceremony marks the end of many years of hard work and planning by so many people.”

The restoration cost the parish about £3 million and took nearly 10 years to complete, partly due to planning difficulties with the local authority. Michael Pearce, the manager of St Raphael’s, said that Fr Flynn had been focal to finishing the project. “It has been his vision and complete trust in the parish’s ability to complete the task that has seen this project through,” he said.

He added: “The money was raised mainly by the sale of the old presbytery and parish hall, both of which were situated some distance from the church. This was supplemented by many fundraising activities in the parish.”

The project involved the restoration of the exterior stonework as well as the interior of the Church. A new accommodation was constructed for the clergy including a small car park, as well as a new parish centre, the “Alexander House”, named after the founder of the church.

Fr Flynn said: “Our beautifully restored church, for the glory and worship of Almighty God and to the honour of our holy patron St Raphael, will be a lasting testament to future generations.”

It was bought by the diocese after the Second World War. There had been plans to build a new church in its place in the 1960s, but these were dropped when the old church was Grade II* listed. Designed by the Victorian architect Charles Parker, it is regarded as one of the finest examples of Victorian Italianate architecture in the country.

For more photographs of the consecration of the church visit the bishops’ conference Flickr stream.

  • Helenshepherd

    Ad multos annos Fr Vincent!

  • VickiCostick

    £3 million and they STILL have altar rails! 

  • Peterjacuzzismith

    Now don’t get you knickers in a twist

  • Hottub

    I didn’t recognise the bishop in that get tup.

  • nytor

    Looks like they have a proper altar!

  • Karen

    speaking as a special minister i would find that liturgical space oppressively patriarchal to serve in.

  • Berlusconi

    Bunga! Bunga!

  • Jacuzzi

    Indeed, but no need to get your knickers in a twist Vicki.

  • Paul

    I wasn’t invited becasue I hum.

  • Guy

    It looks just like my old college at Oxford.

  • Matthew

    Well I am studying Italian and I have never seen anything like it.

  • Eddie

    It’s a little on the dark side.

  • Vincent

    Welcome to the dark side.

  • Suzyduffy

    It takes my breath away!

  • Francismoran

    It looks like the view of Tower Bridge I have from my bedroom window.

  • Benedict16

    We are thinking of asking Fr Flynn to restore our church.

  • Stefanvonfischer

    My uncle Nikolaus Pevsner  told me personally that architecturally speaking St Raphael’s was the perfect half way house between Pugin’s chef d’oeuvre the saltily austere St Augustine’s Ramsgate and the humourously understated gem of the Surrey hills, Chilworth Friary.

  • Mason

    Well I have just been to mass at St Raphael’s and I also have a copy of Pevsner and no where does he mention the illuminated green “Toilet Facilities” sign (complete with flashing arrow). I am sure he would have something salty to say about its presence in a listed building.

  • Coleen

    As a mother of 13 I do not have much time to write and I can assure you that having an available loo, salty or not, is a Godsend when I am out with even half of my brood. Actually the sign keeps my Liam quiet during the bidding prayers.  

  • Connie

    In fact the sign only flashes green for a few seconds, when someone enters the toilet and turns the lock whereupon it turns red. Otherwise it remains green, on standby, as it were. Coleen I have seen your Liam staring at it, he is such a good boy, I am sure that soon he will be a fine server like his brothers.

  • Baron Armah-Kwantreng

    A heart warming story. Being a near neighbour to Kingston I will seek out St. Raphael’s for a visit next time I deposit the family at John Lewis’ on a shopping trip.

    But one slight historical quibble. It seems to be an English malaise that the history of the Catholic Church in England is described by Catholics as beginning with Newman. Obviously the Church had a significant rebirth in the nineteenth century but it never fully disappeared after the Reformation. Thank God! So I question the claim that St. Raphael opened as Kingston’s first Catholc church.

  • kentgeordie

    Have they really got the altar in the right place?

  • Grenville_Fortescue

    What’s wrong with its position?

  • Grenville_Fortescue

    All the best for the future ministry of St.Raphael’s.