St. Mary Magdalene, Munster Square


English Heritage



J. R. Howard Roberts and Walter H. Godfrey (editors)

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'St. Mary Magdalene, Munster Square', Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood (1949), pp. 140-141. URL: Date accessed: 23 November 2014.


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This is a daughter church of Christ Church, Albany Street, and it owes its foundation to the Rev. Edward Stuart, who was one of the assistant clergy at Christ Church. A man of means, he resolved to devote his estate to the Church, and after consultation with the Bishop of London he chose the neighbourhood of York Square (now Munster Square) for the sphere of his labours. A fund already existed at Christ Church to provide for a new church, and with this money the site was purchased. Mr. Stuart paid for the building.

The architect was Richard Cromwell Carpenter (1813–1855), the designer of two Brighton churches, SS. Stephen and Andrew, and S. Paul. (fn. *) In designing this church he had in mind the now destroyed Austin Friars, London, and he made the nave and aisles of almost equal width, giving them parallel independent roofs. The nave has five bays and at the end of each aisle a further bay forms a chapel, divided from the aisle in each case by an oak screen. A tower of three stages with a lofty stone steeple was designed to be placed south of the south aisle, but this has not yet been built. There is a north gabled porch to the western bay of the north aisle. The length of the nave is 72 ft. and the chancel 38 ft. 10 in. The height of the nave roof is 54 ft. There is a crypt beneath the whole building. (Plates Plate 79, Plate 80.)

The church was consecrated on the 22nd April, 1852. The north aisle was not built until 1884 and was then carried out by Richard H. Carpenter, following his father's design. It was built as a memorial to the founder. The Clergy House was commenced in 1894. The Church Schools are an important part of the church's activities and were started by Mr. Stuart who invited children to his house before the church was built.

Among the internal fittings and memorials the following may be mentioned. The rood-beam and figures, as well as the chapel screens, were designed by J. T. Micklethwaite, the latter being a memorial to the Rev. W. H. H. Jervois. The aumbrey in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament was designed by Paul Waterhouse who was also responsible for the 1914–18 war memorial, a crucifix on the exterior of the west front. The memorial inscription to the founder is on the lowest step to the altar and a tablet to the second vicar, the Rev. Frederick J. Ponsonby, designed by Norman Shaw, is on the north wall, just west of the piscina. The stained glass includes the east window, designed by A. Welby Pugin, the cartoons for which were drawn by his pupil and son-in-law, John Powell, while Messrs. Hardman carried out the work, and the two easternmost windows in the south aisle were made by Messrs. Clayton and Bell under the direction of Butterfield. (fn. †)

List of Vicars

1852Edward Stuart—Founder of the church Perpetual Curate, 1852–1868 Vicar, 1868–1877
1877Frederick J. Ponsonby
1894H. W. Hitchcock
1896William Henry Hammond Jervois
1905Richard Emmerson Giraud
1922John Basil Simpson
1925D. Lewellin Rhys
1929Henry Christian Thorn Hose

In 1926 the clergy were asked to undertake the Chaplaincy of University College Hospital.


* A contemporary notice of the work in progress and a reproduction of the architect's perspective drawing are to be found in The Ecclesiologist, Vol. X (1850), p. 353.
Much of the above information has been obtained from The Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Munster Square, A Record, 1852–1927.

Munster Square
Clarence Gardens