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St Mary, Stoke Newington, and its north porch. This handsome Grade II* listed parish church was designed by George Gilbert Scott, when the older parish church opposite (also called St Mary's) proved inadequate. It was consecrated in 1858, but the tower and spire were added only in 1890, when Scott's son, John Oldrid Scott, completed the church, also adding a vestry to the north east — where there have been some more recent additions. The church, built of coursed rubble with stone dressings, was repaired after the war (see listing text). It stands near the western end of Church Street.


Looking east, showing the beautifully carved backs of the pews, the richly carved foliate capitals, and the organ and pulpit on the south.

Left: Closer view of the chancel (typically larger, post-Pugin) with the side chapels at the end of each aisle. Right: Looking west, showing the vault over the crossing with the strutted timber roof over the nave.

Looking west from the chancel, showing the intricate wood carving in the choir and the angel carving along the intradoses or inside arches of the the stone arcading.

The contrast between the old and new St Mary's is striking, the older church being a sixteenth-century rebuild of a medieval one, a "small homely building of brick," still with something of the air of a rural church (it adjoins Clissold Park) while this newer one represents "the ambition of a rising London suburb" in the mid-Victorian period (Cherry and Pevsner 534). Even though Charles Barry worked on the older church in the late 1820s, and added most of the furnishings then, including the pulpit, he did so tactfully, so the interior harmonises well with the exterior. It is quaint rather than grand. Scott's St Mary's, on the other hand, is grand both in scale and detail, "a very spacious and handsome structure ... in the Early Decorated style" (Walford 533). Built to seat a congregation of 1,300, it was noted in the press at the time as "one of the largest churches which have been erected during the last half century in the diocese of London" ("Church").


Left to right: (a) The organ, in the south transept. (b) The pulpit, just in front of and to the south of the chancel. (c) The font.

Scott made sure the church had impressive fittings to match. Its fittings and fixtures demonstrate the best craftsmanship of the time. Edward Walford picks out not only "the capitals of the pillars of the nave ... with varieties of English foliage in bold relief," but also the organ and the pulpit, the latter with reliefs of the heads of Jesus and the four Evangelists, saying they were "much admired" (533). The organ was from the highly reputed firm of Gray & Davison, 1858 (see Thistlethwaite 291), and the font should be mentioned too: it is a circular one, also of 1858, "having figures of angels from the chisel of the younger Westmacott" (Bumpus 134).

"The interior is enriched with an elaborate reredos, representing the 'Last Supper'" (Walford 533). This dates from 1908, and shows the Last Supper within arcading.

The listing text sums up the interior nicely: "Internally, this is a lavish church, with careful consideration given to the stone carving on the arcade and in the chancel and to the sumptuous font, altar-piece and pulpit. The liturgical and historical tastes of the Ecclesiologist Movement, which emphasised the beauty and glory of C14 religious buildings, are manifest in its architecture."

Label head.


Bumpus, John Skelton. A Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Terms. London: T Werner Laurie, 1910. Internet Archive. Contributed by Robarts Library, University of Toronto. Web. 26 May 2015.

Cherry, Bridget, and Nikolaus Pevsner. London 4: North (Buildings of England series). New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998.

"Church." The Blackburn Standard (Blackburn, England). 7 July 1858; Issue 1223. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II. Web. 26 May 2015.

"List Entry" (for the "[New] Church of St Mary"). Historic England. Web. 26 May 2015.

Thistlethwaite, Nicholas. The Making of the Victorian Organ. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Walford, Edward. Old and New London: The northern suburbs: Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill. New revised ed. London: Cassell, n.d. Internet Archive. Contributed by Robarts Library, University of Toronto. Web. 26 May 2015.

Created 2 June 2015