Home > Architecture & Urban Design, London, Things I Like... > St Boniface’s German Church, Whitechapel.

St Boniface’s German Church, Whitechapel.

f47000695a0afa4f4623518d47fa18faWe came across this forgotten and hidden gem again recently, St Boniface’s German RC Church in Whitechapel.

Initiated and constructed in the late 1950’s to replace an earlier bomb damaged church, this wonderful building was designed by the little known practice of D. Plaskett Marshall & Partners, a London based firm who from what I can gather, seemed to specialise in religious and educational projects…

The main body of this still unapologetically modern looking building is clad externally in small format silvery grey coloured bricks, whilst the bell tower and feature entrance elements are finished in a variety of beautiful profiled mosaic tiled panels, in yellow, red, white, grey and black, truly one of my most favorite of materials, and one that is criminally underused today.

This contemporary black & white photo from the early 1960’s, illustrates the amazing bell tower, with its distinctive cut away top. From what I’ve read, it would appear that the tower had to be to these almost alarming proportions, in order to house the original bells that were salvaged from the previous church.

Sadly on the two or three times we’ve been past, the wonderful hardwood timber entrance screens have always been locked, so we’ve never managed to get in. Some borrowed photos from the internet however depict a calm and structurally unambiguous interior, with clean white plastered walls adorned with artworks and images which to my eyes seem very obviously to be contemporaneous with the churches modernist design intentions.

Surprisingly this wonderful little essay in North European/ Scandinavian Modernism is currently not Listed, which I can only suggest is a huge oversight which should be addressed as soon as…

There’s more here on the fascinating Taking Stock site if you’re interested, with enough detail and background on the Roman Catholic Churches of England and Wales than anyone could wish for. Bizarrely however, there’s nothing whatsoever from my own neck of the woods, The Diocese of Birmingham, where I could have sworn that a certain Mr. Augustus Pugin was involved in at least a couple of  churches and a Cathedral…

spitalfields_st_boniface_rc051013_

Interior_2_Steve Cadman

Interior_1_Steve Cadman

 

 

  1. April 29, 2014 at 19:08

    Wow! It’s fabulous inside and out.

    • May 1, 2014 at 07:56

      Hi Bridget
      It’s amazing how many of these little post war churches there are dotted around, often stylishly understated modern on the outside but almost always with a wow factor inside. If you visited one a month say, there’d be many years worth of exploring…
      Joe

  2. Tim
    July 2, 2014 at 09:48

    Weird that you would have a German church here so soon after the war & the Jewish presence in the area then too.
    It’s all different now though.

    • July 2, 2014 at 14:18

      Hi Tim
      I hadn’t thought of it in those terms, but a bit strange certainly.. I suspect that it has to do with the previous bombed church, probably the same denomination and they just reused the site..
      Joe

  3. Andrew E
    December 23, 2015 at 12:24

    indeed has been a German catholic mission (with hostel) and a church for many years previous to this modern building (buit in ’52 and ’53). The scraffiti behind the alter is magnificent, as is the iron work, green marble altar furniture and the stained glass window. I spent many hours admiring this whilst attending mass and serving on the altar. My parents were involved in the activity to define what replaced the bomb damaged church

  4. Andrew E
    December 23, 2015 at 14:53

    Definitely to do with the previous church. There had been a german catholic church there since the 1870s – it developed as a mission for catholic immigrants with a hostel. The interior is wonderful with excellent stained glass, scraffiti over the altar, modern green marble altar furniture and exquisite ironwork as well as an organ from 65 – mostly by German artisans from the area where the then priest (who orchestrated the new building) was from. I spent many hours inside and my parents were involved in the group who developed ideas for the rebuild

  5. Tombags
    November 18, 2016 at 16:54

    I have applied to get this church listed. Fingers crossed!

  6. Caroline E Boyce
    December 4, 2016 at 16:58

    Thank you for your post on. ST. Boniface.I saw the church today and was really taken by it. I live architecture from that period

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