Former All Saints’ Pastoral Centre and Chapel, London Colney, Herts
Built as an Anglican convent in an exceptional Arts and Crafts neo-Tudor style in 1899 by Leonard Stokes. The Gothic convent chapel was added in 1927, designed by Sir Ninian Comper, one of the greatest church architects of the C20th. Tall, long and narrow in the manner of Oxford and Cambridge college chapels, it was only finally completed between 1960 and 1964 by Comper’s son, Sebastian. Comper designed relatively few new churches, and his speciality was the fitting-out and decoration of interiors. The London Colney chapel has especially fine carved woodwork and stained glass, a very light and spacious interior and a majestic baldacchino over the altar, supported on classical columns. Comper also added a southern annexe and Voluntary Mission. The building was acquired by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Westminster in 1973 and converted to a conference centre and retreat. After falling into disrepair, the centre closed in 2011 and was sold to the property developer Cromer Homes. Cromer plans to redevelop the site for residential housing, using an Enabling Development scheme to subsidise the vast costs now needed to restore the buildings which are Grade II* listed. While Comer Homes have taken responsible precautions, the C20 Society is concerned at how long the consent process is taking and the continuing risk to the fabric of the chapel, particularly the effects of water ingress and the deterioration in the window mullions.
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