St John the Baptist, Hillingdon is a medieval parish church which was restored and enlarged by George Gilbert Scott in 1847-8.
As the capital of Empire put its tentacles through Middlesex, its small, humble flint-built parish churches were no longer fit for purpose. Many of them were quite brutally enlarged, with a mega-church clamped on the side. Hillingdon’s church got off quite easy, and still could pass as a rural parish. Still, the exterior is quite seriously gone-over, with all the tracery remade in Bath stone.
Essentially all that is medieval left in-situ are the three-bay nave arcades, probably late fourteenth century, the north with much simple sculpture of heads. The north aisle roof, with jolly corbel busts, is fifteenth-century. Scott added a crossing of sorts, by springing an arch into a new pair of shallow transepts upon corbels, not columns, carved with the emblems of the Four Evangelists.
Scott reset the chancel arch preserving the exceptional thirteenth-century grimacing corbel enveloped by serpents on the north. It is of such high quality it could have come from the masons’ yard of Westminster Abbey. Scott’s sculptor had a bit of fun replicating it on the south.
His chancel is Decorated, the most neutral style at the time. The east window is a stock curvilinear design, an organ chamber to the south, two bay arcade to the north, and blind niches either side of the sanctuary for housing some superb seventeenth- and eighteenth-century monuments. Whereas some architects might be keen to put their own stamp on the extensions, Scott’s is in keeping with the old: calm and respectful.