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The Ascension Church as viewed from Lavender Hill circa 1890

A Full History and Guide


(Please note this section is currently being reviewed and will be updated shortly)

 

OUR PARISH TODAY
The Parish of Lavender Hill The Ascension and Battersea St Philip with St Bartholomew was created by an Order of The Queen in Council dated 17th May, 2000. The Parish is under the Extended Episcopal Care of The Bishop of Fulham. There are three churches within the Parish: The Church of The Ascension of The Lord, Lavender Hill, with which this short history and guide is concerned; The Church of St Philip The Apostle, Queenstown Road, now home to the Ethiopian Orthodox Parish of St Mary of Debre Tsion; and The Church of St Bartholomew the Less, Wycliffe Road, now home to the Greek Orthodox Parish of St Nectarious.  

‘Beside those spires so spick and span
Against an unencumbered sky
The old Great Western Railway ran
When someone different was I. 
St Aidan’s with the prickly nobs
And iron spikes and coloured tiles –
Where Auntie Maud devoutly bobsIn those enriched vermillion aisles. 
The old Great Western Railway shakes
The old Great Western Railway spins
The old Great Western Railway makes
Me very sorry for my sins.’ 

A LANDMARK
 In those charming and lovable lines from John Betjeman’s ‘Distant view of a Provincial Town’ the poet reveals how a view of an urban landscape, punctuated by familiar churches, stirs up his religious belief and raises in him an uneasy feeling of conscience. The days of the Great Western Railway are now long gone but many travellers to a greater or lesser degree will empathise with the poet’s reflections. For sacred and secular buildings are often capable of reviving poignant memories of times past. ‘For me’, writes Richard McEwan, Headmaster of St John the Evangelist and St Mary Magdalene’s School, Goldthorpe, ‘the familiar sight of a distinctive red brick church, which impressively dominates the rooftops of Battersea, always marked the near conclusion of a holiday journey from Brighton to Victoria. The building crowns the hill at its highest point and stands proudly, with a great dignity which is guaranteed to lift the spirit. Many years later, I discovered that this familiar landmark was the Church of The Ascension, Lavender Hill, and I made my first visit there. The building is an impressive example of the grandness of effect the best mid-Victorian architects could achieve by using the simplest means. It has a very tall nave and chancel under one long roof held up by short stone columns. The east end terminates in a huge semi-circular apse and is dark and mysterious. It is a haven of peace in a busy thoroughfare. The church provides a valuable refuge to those who find time to stop and pray but for those of us who rush on – we are grateful for its silent witness to God’s abiding presence and our own quest for holiness’.

 IN THE BEGINNING
In St Mary’s Cemetery, Battersea Rise, lies the body of a dearly loved priest – John Bourdieu Wilkinson SSC. Father Wilkinson was the first Parish Priest of The Ascension, Lavender Hill. In his youth he lived in a house overlooking Clapham Common North Side, not far from the fragrant fields from which Lavender Hill took its name. This Church would not exist today but for the boyhood dream of John Wilkinson and the generosity of those he influenced in the Faith. He and his family were convinced Tractarians, part of that Movement, founded at Oriel College, Oxford, which was to bring the Church of England back to her roots as part of the Catholic Church and to so transform her life and worship. They had fallen under the spell of one who was destined to become a giant of the Faith.  

PIMLICO
Charles Fuge Lowder was at that time on the staff of St Barnabas, Pimlico, in the Parish of St Paul, Knightsbridge, where the Wilkinsons worshipped, a church so advanced in its ritual that on various occasions in the 1850s and 60s it was the setting for a series of protests against the return of what some saw as ‘popery’, so much so, that they often developed into riots. Inspired by the devotion of Father Lowder and other priests of his calibre (who were to become the first members of the Society of the Holy Cross) the young John Wilkinson soon felt called to the priesthood. As he sat on the Common, looking down over the fields blue with lavender, he dreamt that one day, if God wanted him to be a priest, he would build a church on this hill where the Faith would be proclaimed. Eventually, he was ordained and went to serve his first curacy at St Barnabas, Pimlico. The effects of the ritual riots were still being felt, so Father Wilkinson, supported by a group of wealthy laywomen, conceived the idea of establishing a centre of Anglo Catholicism free from the controversies which raged about them in central London. Father Wilkinson’s thoughts were of Lavender Hill. 

FOUNDERS OF THE ASCENSION
In Pimlico, Father Wilkinson ministered not only to the very poor of the Peabody Estate but also to a number of wealthy people who had devoted their lives to the Faith. Among these were Lady Anne Antrobus, wife of Sir Edmund Antrobus, (2nd Baronet Antrobus, of Antrobus in the County Palatine of Chester) her sister-in-law by marriage, The Honourable Jane Duff-Gordon, and a young dowager, Amelia, Lady Boston. These three, anxious for a more settled life away from the riots that lingered on in Pimlico, were the principal Founders of The Ascension, Lavender Hill. About this time, Earl Shaftsbury’s estate had recently been developed. Much of it was used as housing for homeless soldiers returning from the Crimea and for workers imported from the East End to maintain Clapham Junction Station – the busiest in the world in 1870! The grounds of Pountney House were purchased out of a large benefaction made by the Ladies. It comprised the land between the end of Crown Terrace (where the Crown Hotel still stands) and what is now Acanthus Road as the southern boundary, and Elsley Road as the northern boundary, a sizable plot, of which only about a third remains in church hands. Here, far away from the troubles in Knightsbridge and Kensington, though then within sight of both, was to rise The Church of The Ascension of The Lord, Lavender Hill. In 1872, Father Wilkinson, Lady Antrobus and the Hon. Mrs Duff-Gordon moved to Lavender Hill. Later that year a site was purchased thanks to the generosity of Lady Boston. Born Catherine Amelia Saumarez, the elder daughter of the 3rd Baron de Saumarez, she had married George Ives Irby, the 4th Baron Boston, 20th July, 1861, at St George’s, Hanover Square. By 1872, she had already lost her first child, The Hon. Dorothy Gwenddolen Irby, in 1865, and her husband in 1869, and, by September, 1873, was left entirely alone following the death of her second child, The Hon. Maud Caroline Irby. Lady Boston, who was a devout Anglo Catholic, then decided to devote not just her wealth but her whole self to the people of Lavender Hill.   

THE NEW CHURCH
The Shaftsbury Estate dwellers made it known that they wanted a church that would resemble those they had left behind in the East End. So it was that the great Anglo Catholic architect James Brooks, who was responsible for St Chad’s, Haggerston, St Columba’s, Haggerston, St Saviour’s, Hoxton, and St Michael’s, Shoreditch, was commissioned to design one of his finest churches – that of The Ascension of The Lord, Lavender Hill. The foundation stone was laid by John Patrick Boyle, Earl of Glasgow, 1st June, 1874, but the dramatic site proved to have certain drawbacks. Brooks discovered that he had to pour a disproportionate amount of available funds into the foundations of the new church. The unforeseen expense alarmed his clients and also prevented certain embellishments from being executed. This included the carving of the stone capitals in the nave, the projected tower with steeple above what is now the south porch and an elaborately carved stone reredos. However, Father Wilkinson’s dream had become a reality. The splendid new church was consecrated for worship by the Bishop of the Diocese, The Rt Rev’d Dr Anthony William Thorold, Bishop of Rochester, 30th June, 1883, amidst great rejoicing. However, Father Wilkinson’s premature death on 16th July, 1885, cast a shadow across the parish that had been the scene of a remarkable ministry. No doubt he rests peacefully in his grave.  

THE PARISH CHURCH
To an original design by the great Anglo-Catholic architect James Brooks (1825-1901) the church is thought to be the first in England dedicated to The Ascension of The Lord. The foundation stone, according to Henry Simmonds in ‘All About Battersea’ (1882) was situated ‘under the altar’ of the temporary church. The builder was Mr Chessam of Shoreditch, who worked with Brooks on other Anglo-Catholic churches in the East End. The sloping site, caused Brooks to spend far more than he had estimated, and discontent at the additional expense led to his dismissal and replacement, in 1883, by Messrs J. T. Micklewaite and Somers Clark, who completed the church almost entirely to Brooks’ design. The present chancel and first part of the nave was consecrated by The Rt Rev’d Anthony Thorold DD, Lord Bishop of Rochester, in whose diocese The Ascension then was, 30th June, 1883. James Brooks, who was the son of a Berkshire farmer, came to London in 1847, where he studied at the Royal Academy Schools. His early work was much influenced by William Butterfield, but he soon fell in love with the austere 13th century churches of France, which he was able to adapt well to the red brick town churches he was called upon to build for the Anglo-Catholic Movement. His great ark-like buildings are expressive of the advanced ritual and high doctrine of the Church in which Brooks himself firmly believed. Thomas Bumpus, writing in ‘London Churches Ancient and Modern’ (1908) wrote: ‘The Ascension, Lavender Hill, is conceived in a bold and vigorous Early Pointed style, recalling such Burgundian examples as Auxerre and Pontigny, admirably adapted to the present day requirements’. In fact, The Ascension is a miniature copy of the Cistercian Abbey Church of Our Lady at Pontigny! Measuring 138ft by 40ft excluding the north chapel, the first impression of the church is of an immense, severe, building, plain to the point of being daunting. Yet at the east end the curves of the apse, (reminiscent of the nearby St Peter’s, Vauxhall) the north chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, the hipped roof of the vestry and sacristy block and the candle-snuffer roof of the stair turrets give an altogether more romantic profile. The ark-like quality is achieved by the combination of the nave and chancel under a single, huge, roof ridge, terminating in its tall gable at the west end and the semi-circular apse at the other. The west elevation is slightly different to Brooks’ plan – a carved, Portland Stone Calvary, by A. T. Bradford (1921), which serves as a memorial to the War Dead, replacing an un-built great west door. The present main entrance is via the base of the unfinished Bell Tower with Steeple through two massive doors bearing the inscription ‘The pence of the poor paid for this door: 1882’.  

ALL GLORIOUS WITHIN
The interior of the church stands in stark contrast to the exterior of the building. The lack of windows in the aisles, so much a part of its external severity, serves to create a sense of security and other-worldliness which concentrates the mind on what the building was intended for: the worship of almighty God. The present interior, though rather different from Brooks’ original, speaks powerfully of the majesty of God. The high altar, raised from the pavement of the sanctuary on a flight of three sweeping steps is an elongation of the Brooks’ original. Carved in oak in 1876, it has cylindrical, ringed, legs and circles of cinquefoils and contains a relic of Blessed Maria Gabriella of Unity, a picture of whom hangs on a pillar to the north of the sanctuary. The reredos, behind the altar, is a framework containing plaster panels from the 1930s depicting The Ascension, flanked by The Resurrection and Pentecost with panels of angels between, The six, large, baroque, candlesticks on the reredos, together with the matching crucifix, are of gesso on oak and date from the 1920s, as do the four smaller ones arranged between them. On a pillar to the north is the Consecration Cross bearing the Latin inscription ‘Consecratio huius Ecclesiae a Domino: Antonio Roffensi Episcopo: in crastino Sancti Petri Apostoli: MDCCCLXXXIII’. (This Church was consecrated to the Lord by Anthony, Bishop of Rochester, the day after the Feast of St Peter the Apostle, 1883)  In the chancel, note the fine choir benches of polished oak and the simple oak lectern arranged for reading at the choir offices. The statues on the inner chancel pillars are of Our Lady of Walsingham, to the north, and St Michael the Archangel, to the south. The latter was brought by members of the Guild of St Michael from St Michael’s, Battersea, when they were expelled by an unsympathetic incumbent in 1885! The windows in the chancel apse are by C.E. Kempe and date from 1896. They depict, from the north side going left to right: The Prophet Daniel, The Prophet Malachi, St Elizabeth, Our Lady, Christ the King, St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist. To the south of the chancel is an embryonic transept, containing seven other windows. They depict: Christ the King, in the tracery roundel, St Michael and St Gabriel the Archangels, in the two smaller roundels, all by A. K. Nicholson, and St Edmund of East Anglia and St Martin of Tours, the work of Powell’s of Whitefriars and dating from 1904. The others are of St George the Martyr and St Alban the Martyr, from 1917 and 1919 respectively. The chancel is separated from the nave by a huge, oak, rood screen, complete with return stalls on the eastern side. Started in 1910, it is a memorial to the second Parish Priest, Father Charles Stebbing Wallace SSC, and was executed by his elder son Arthur Wallace. Replacing the Brooks screen of 1876, a low, plain, structure, it is a response to the Edwardian taste for mystery. Above is its attendant rood beam with figures of Our Lady and St John. In the arches of the screen can be found to the north a statue of St John Vianney and to the south one of Jesus the Good Shepherd. To the west of this screen is the nave altar with its surrounding sanctuary. The altar is in carved oak from about 1930 and contains a relic of St John Mary of Camporosso, a picture of whom hangs on a pillar to the north. The six, baroque, candlesticks are of cast brass and gilded. The pulpit to the south dates from about 1900 and is eight sides of an oak decagon. Set on a stone base, it has fleur-de-lys in the uprights of its handrail. Note the very fine carved mahogany crucifix above. In front of the nave altar are, to the north, the sedilia, an arrangement of chairs for the sacred ministers, and, to the south, an outstanding example of a Victorian brass eagle lectern. Dating from around 1870, this once stood in St Philip’s, Queenstown Road. To the north of the nave altar stands the now famous Shrine of Our Lady of Lavender Hill with a pair of very fine gothic pavement candlesticks and, to the south, St George the Martyr, a copy of the Donatello original, together with a pair of large bronze candlesticks finished in silver-gilt. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, to the north of the church, is entered through a fine gilded iron screen a memorial to Father Wallace’s younger son, Father Raymond Job Wallace SSC, who was killed in action during the Great War. However, the chapel itself is a memorial to the first Parish Priest, Father John Bourdieu Wilkinson SSC, who died in 1885. The screen, which was made in 1895, bears a hatchment consisting of a Chalice and Host, above the gates, suggesting that the chapel beyond was used for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The altar is of carved oak and is late 19th century. It has six enormous turned baluster legs. Set in the red, marble, gradine is a gilded, wooden, tabernacle with exposition throne above, which houses an iron aumbry containing the Blessed Sacrament. Note the beautiful 18th century Spanish painted silk Conopeaum covering it. Rising above this is a folding, triptych, altarpiece, central to which is an oil-on-board painting of The Descent of the Holy Spirit. It was painted by Thomas Kempe in 1887. The gothic crucifix and candlesticks set with semi-precious stones came from St Philip’s, Queenstown Road. Note the painting of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii to the north and the fine carved stone piscinia to the south. To the north of this chapel is a fine statue of Our Lady given by a former curate, Walter Julius Carey SSC, sometime Bishop of Bloemfontaine. The windows in this chapel are all by Thomas Kempe and date from 1887. From the west wall, working left to right, they depict: The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Nativity, The Presentation, and Christ the King Found in the Temple, the Five Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. In the nave, note the unusual Stations of the Cross around the walls, the work of Nina Somerset and Hilda Price, artists in residence during the 1930s. The statues to the north are, from east to west, of The Divine Infant, from a drawing of Christ in the Temple by Rembrandt, and St Agnes. To the south they are of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, St Vincent de Paul, and St Joseph the Worker. Either side of the Sacred Heart, note the outstanding Victorian Brass Standard Candlesticks, which once stood in the sanctuary of St Philip’s, Queenstown Road. At the west end, under the uncoloured windows of the steep gable, stands the impressive font. Designed by Brooks, it was erected in 1881 as a memorial to members of the Leigh-Meynell and Leigh-Pemberton (of Bank of England fame) families. It depicts reliefs of The Baptism of Christ, Christ and the Children, and The Baptism of the Eunuch. Behind the font is a very impressive Calvary. It is of carved and coloured oak and was brought from France in 1890. Near the tower porch door is a large, marble, holy water stoup, above which, surmounted by a small statue of Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, is an illuminated memorial to the dead of the Great War by William Bromage, an earlier artist in residence. In the south west corner stands the altar of Our Lady of Walsingham. The crucifix and four, matching, candlesticks are from the 1940s. Behind it, is a window depicting St Francis of Assisi, a memorial to Mother Mary Caroline CCJ, it is an early example of the work of the Faithcraft Workshops.   

MOTHER MARY CAROLINE
Encouraged by Father Lowder and Father Wilkinson, Lady Boston felt a call to the Religious Life. Having taken solemn vows within the Community of St John the Baptist, Clewer, she later returned to Lavender Hill. Here she established a Mission House, which she paid for and eventually staffed with sisters of the Community of the Compassion of Jesus, having transferred her stability to that community. Mother Mary Caroline, as she was now known, made the parish and people of Lavender Hill her life’s work. In the New Testament we find Our Lord frequently speaking of his work as that of service. He came to serve, not to be served. Those words inspired some noble, wonderfully heroic, and sacrificial work in this pioneer parish. Mother Mary Caroline’s life of devotion, abundant generosity, and love of the poor was a fortunate choice for the people of Lavender Hill. Like a latter day St Francis, who is depicted in her memorial window near the south porch, she renounced a life of comfort for a life of humble service. Eventually, Mother Mary Caroline, worn out by the volume of work she undertook in the community, retired to Tankerton. She lived out her final years in silence and reflection and she died there on 20th December, 1927.     

DEVOTION TO OUR LADY
It was Mother Mary Caroline who, in 1876, set up the first Shrine of Our Lady of Lavender Hill. Its original home was the small oratory of the Mission House in Pountney Road, where the sisters gathered each evening for the Angelus and Rosary. The focus of this devotion was a reproduction of the painting of the Blessed Virgin popularly referred to as ‘The St Luke’s Madonna’. The original is venerated in the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. With the appointment of Father Charles Stebbing Wallace SSC in 1885, the work of Father Wilkinson was consolidated and developed. This period was noted for outstanding preaching and pastoral care. Father Wallace was a great Parish Priest and teacher, the people loved him for his real goodness and thus it was that he carried the congregation with him and was able to do such great things. In 1877, as a still young priest, Father Wallace was refused a licence by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Archibald Tait, because he refused to leave the Society of the Holy Cross, a precondition laid down by Tait before he would authorise his appointment as Assistant Priest to St Barnabas, Beckenham. Like-minded clergy, however, respected him for his courageous conduct and he was described by a later Parish Priest at Beckenham as ‘the very embodiment of priestly chivalry and fraternal charity’. His ministry drew vast congregations within the walls of The Ascension. The Mass (which has been said every day since 1872) became the main act of Sunday worship, but only after careful teaching and explanation. A similar approach was taken in regard to devotion to Our Lady. Only after the people had been thoroughly prepared was the Shrine transferred to the new church.  On greater feasts the little painting was decorated with pot palms, ferns and flowers. The setting up of the Shrine in the public church however, (the doors of which were never shut) meant that it soon became the focus of much prayer and intercession. Even Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Helena (HRH The Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein) a generous benefactress of the parish, came to pray regularly at the Shrine! 

GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
In 1915, Father Arthur Montford became the third Parish Priest. The Church of The Ascension was beautified in several ways during these years and much more colour was introduced into the building. The High Altar was raised and extended and provided with a Reredos – this corresponding with a transition from the Sarum to the Roman Rite at High Mass. It was, however, one of Father Wallace’s best-loved curates, Father Walter Julius Carey SSC (who was later consecrated Bishop of Bloemfontein) who, on 15th August, 1920, gave the first statue of Our Lady. Bishop Carey felt that the Church of The Ascension had taught him so much that he wanted to donate a statue which would be an appropriate memorial to his own mother, and express his personal devotion to the Mother of God. By the late 1990s, this fine old statue had been badly damaged and was moved to the north wall of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. On New Year’s Eve, 1999, to mark the start of the third Christian Millennium, a beautifully restored image, carved in Paris in 1900, was set up as the focal point of the Shrine of Our Lady of Lavender Hill. So it is that, since 1876, the Shrine of Our Lady has continued to inspire the people of Lavender Hill to develop their own response to God and ask the Mother of Jesus to intercede for them. Devotion to Our Lady has been taught and practiced in this place for over 125 years without fail, and, whenever the church is open, the Shrine is always ablaze with votive candles.  

PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES
On Good Friday, 1979, this well-loved church was the scene of a raging fire, which threatened to destroy it. For, shortly before 7.00pm on Friday 13th April, fierce flames spread quickly from the belfry along the high roof. The blazing church lit up the night sky and passengers could see the flames from the London to Brighton Line, which runs at the foot of the Hill. The people of The Ascension were not, however, to be defeated by this event. The then Parish Priest, Father John Cuthbert CMP, recognised that the damage could have been far worse. He was convinced that the dignity and quality of the church’s witness and the daily offering of prayer and praise was to be sustained for the future. He was inspired by the wave of goodwill and affection expressed towards the burnt out church, much of which came from people who were not (and probably never would be) worshippers within its walls. He was full pf praise for the staff of the fire service, from six stations, some of whom stayed throughout the night to ensure that the fire-ravaged building was saved. ‘This is not so much a disaster as a challenge’ he said. ‘We have tasted of death but now go all out for resurrection and renewal.’   

RESURGAM
By the start of the 1990s, the congregation had dwindled and a real threat of closure hung over the church. It took until the end of that decade for the first phase of restoration to be completed, but, like the building, which had literally risen from the ashes, the congregation is large and thriving again under the present Parish Priest, Father Patrick Allen OSB. The Church of The Ascension, Lavender Hill, now part of a much larger parish and served by a small community of Benedictine Oblates Regular, of which Father Patrick is the Prior, has stood for over 130 years as an eloquent witness to God’s love for his people and as an oasis of peace. The church stands today in its restored beauty, equipped for worship, ready to continue its distinguished service to the community. The final phase of its restoration, which will include the provision of halls, kitchens and lavatories and sensitive re-ordering, is about to begin. Here the Catholic Faith has been taught and practised from the very beginning and the unique position of Mary of Nazareth in the economy of salvation has been honoured unfailingly.   

OUR RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES
It is appropriate that we should record the debt of gratitude we owe to those who have served here as religious. The Benedictine Community of the Compassion of Jesus (CCJ) has already been mentioned. Under Mother Mary Caroline, sisters of this community were the first of many to serve here. When these sisters moved to Thames Ditton, (where the Home of Compassion is still in operation, though the community became extinct in the late 1970s) the Visitation Sisters of the Society of St Margaret (SSM), who had recently taken over the running of The Hostel of God (now Trinity Hospice) on Clapham Common, served here.  Shortly after this, the Sisters of the Poor of the Society of All Saints (ASSP) opened St Mary’s Home for Unmarried Mothers in Macaulay Road and sisters from this community served in their stead. The two latter communities served only briefly, for when, in 1890, the Community of St Peter (CSP) gave up its rescue work in West London, they began parish work at The Ascension. In 1930 CSP divided into two completely independent communities. The larger of the two, the Benedictine Community of St Peter the Apostle, Westminster (OSB), retained the Mother House at Horbury in West Yorkshire until, in 1937, it acquired  Laleham Abbey at Laleham-on-Thames. It was these Benedictine sisters, under their Life-elected Abbess, the redoubtable Mother Sarah, with successive Abbots of Nashdom acting as Regular Superior, that undertook the lion share of work in this parish, until their removal to Laleham in the late 1950s. Of the male communities, mention has already been made of The Society of the Holy Cross (SSC) of which several Parish Priests, and even more curates, were or are members. In 1974, under Father John Cuthbert CMP, the Company of Mission Priests took over the running of the parish, which continued until Father John’s retirement in 1997. Fr Patrick Allen OSB, was also Prior of a small community, the Benedictine Oblates Regular of Christ the King (OSB) which served the parish until October 2008.   

PARISH PRIESTS OF THE ASCENSION

Fr John Bourdieu Wilkinson SSC 1874-1885
Fr Charles Stebbing Wallace SSC 1885-1914
Fr John Arthur Mainwaring Montford 1914-1923
Fr Egbert de Grey Lucas 1923-1930
Fr Donald Vincent Beckingham 1930-1938
Fr Herbert Edwin Palmer 1939-1943
Fr John Austin Allen SSC 1944-1958
Fr Edward Bruce Branwell 1958-1964
Fr Alan George Cookman SSC 1965-1972
Fr John Hamilton Cuthbert CMP 1972-1997
Fr Patrick Charles Benedict Allen OSB 1997 – 2008
Fr Iain Clavering Young SSC 2009-Present 

PRINCIPAL FOUNDERS AND BENEFACTORS

Anthony Ashley-Cooper, Earl of Shaftsbury, on whose land the church was built
Father John Bourdieu Wilkinson SSC, First Parish Priest and Co-Founder
Mother Mary Caroline CCJ, Dowager Baroness Boston and Co-Founder
Her Royal Highness The Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, Benefactress
John Patrick Boyle, Earl of Glasgow, who laid the foundation stone
Lady Anne Antrobus, BenefactressThe Honourable Mrs Jane Duff-Gordon, Benefactress
James Beresford Kidd, Warden of Keble College, Oxford, Co-Patrons of the Living
Anthony William Thorold Bishop of Rochester, who consecrated the building 
 
THE PARISH PRAYER

Eternal Father, united in the power of your Holy Spirit, we ask you for the gift of renewal in this Parish. So fill us with your Spirit, that we may desire to share our faith and have the courage to do so. We ask this is the name of Jesus the Lord. 

PRAYER TO OUR LADY OF LAVENDER HILL

Most Holy Virgin, down through the ages you have inspired the people of Lavender Hill to respond to God in a myriad of marvellous ways: through your intercession, help us to follow in the footsteps of your Son, Jesus Christ, our ascended and glorified Lord; that, firm in the Faith of the Church, we may proclaim his love in our daily lives and gain an eternal inheritance with you in his kingdom, where he lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen. Our Lady of Lavender Hill, pray for us!   

The author is grateful to Mr Richard McEwan for his permission to use material from one of a series of articles entitled ‘Shines of Our Lady’, which was first published at Christmastide, 2002,  in  
AVE THE MAGAZINE OF THE SOCIETY OF MARY 

Richard is Headmaster of St John the Evangelist and St Mary Magdalene’s JMI School, Goldthorpe. 

This Article Has Been Updated And Reproduced With The Permission of The Original Author, Fr Patrick Charles Benedict Allen. (February 2010) May he rest in peace.