Christ the Saviour, Ealing Broadway was built in 1852, after one parishioner, Rosa Frances Lewis, bequeathed a generous donation for its design. Sir George Gilbert Scott took on the architectural work, and the church is therefore quintessentially Victorian, but with its own individual charm. It was originally founded as Christ Church, but in 1951 the church joined with the neighbouring church of St. Saviour’s, which an incendiary bomb had destroyed in 1940. Like most areas of London, Ealing suffered during the Blitz, and a further bomb later on in 1940 destroyed nearly all of the original stained glass in Christ Church.
In 1952, 100 years after the foundation of the church, Hugh Easton was commissioned to redesign and replace the stained glass. The resulting windows are rather unfortunate and incongruous. As Pevsner implies, the Caucasian, “Hollywood look” of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, complete with garish rainbows and rather loud colours, do not aid the ‘general effect’ of the church. He is quite right, for the church is otherwise markedly impressive. Sir George Gilbert Scott followed the late 13th Century Second Pointed Gothic style, as indicated by the geometric tracery and high vaults found within the church. Externally, its grandest feature is the west tower, which is modelled on that of St. Mary’s Church, Bloxham (Oxfordshire). This starts off as a square but rises into an octagon to accommodate the base of the spire, with large pinnacles filling the four corners.
The interior is well described as “lofty”, with an impressive vaulted roof alongside carved corbels. The extensive decoration inside is thanks to another generous donation by a parishioner, Isabella Trumper, who paid for G.F. Bodley to further ornament the church interior. The roof is adorned with delicate and intricate painting, and the ‘IHS’ monogram is a common feature throughout the church. As Pevsner notes, the church interior is particularly enhanced by the organ cases and pulpit, both designed and installed by Bodley. The organ cases feature Gothic cresting and angels in relief. The definition and detailing is remarkable and well worth a look.
What one might refer to as a “ragstone Dec potboiler” of the sort that was popping up all over London in the mid nineteenth century, but pulled off with aplomb by Scott. Usual type of a clerestoried nave and lower two-bay chancel all faced in Kentish rag, with aisles embracing all but the sanctuary bay. Big beefy traceried pinnacles, bristling with crockets, miniature gables and grotesques, sit at the ends of the main gables. The sloping gabled buttresses are a nice touch, as if the church is digging its heels into the high street.
The steeple was never perhaps the best of his works: the tracery of the bell openings is so deep they look like blunt lancets from a commissioner’s church 50 years previous, and the clock faces are parsimoniously tiny. Worse still, the crocketed spires of the corner pinnacles which help transition the square lower stage of the tower to the spire through an octagonal belfry disappeared sometime in the twentieth century. This is a shame, as the perspectival rhyme they originally had with the nave and chancel pinnacles has been lost.
The nave is spacious and welcoming, its pair of arcades having naturalistic foliage capitals such of those of the late thirteenth century at Claypole, Lincolnshire. It is enlivened by angels painted on the spandrels, with late-medieval English style patterning added to the roofs by Bodley in 1906. The east window of 1952 by Hugh Easton is, however, unfortunate.
More recent developments to the church include the glass doors at the west end, and the new church hall. In the local area the Dickens Yard development has enabled a much better view of the church from the west. Whilst I was exploring the church with PCC Secretary Spencer Williams, I noticed how many people had come in, either to pray, to look round, or even to buy some Christmas cards. It is clear that the church of Christ the Saviour remains a landmark in Ealing Broadway, and ought to for years to come.