THE RESTORATION OF CORPUS CHRISTI
The Hidden Gem
The project is for the complete restoration and enhancement of this historic and most important church, right in the very heart of London. Corpus Christi was opened by Cardinal Manning on the 20th October 1874.
After the Protestant Reformation, it was the first Catholic Church in the country to be dedicated with the title Corpus Christi
- Built in reparation for all the sins committed against the Blessed Sacrament in the 16th century and since.
- The intention of Cardinal Manning was that it would stand here as a statement of what the Catholic Church believes about the Mass i.e. the Body and Blood of the Lord, and as “a sanctuary created specifically for the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament”. (Words of Cardinal Manning, from his homily at the opening of the church).
After a long period of neglect, exacerbated by considerable pollution in Central London, and clumsy attempts to clean the internal fabric by sandblasting, the interior walls and stone work were fully painted out with Artex and other modern paints in the 1970s. The church is looking tired, unloved and in much need of restoration to its former glory.
His Eminence, Vincent Cardinal Nichols has requested the complete restoration of Corpus Christi and the work has begun. To date, we have already carried out:
- The Renewal of the slate roof on the spire of the tower and the restoration and re-hanging of the bell
- Restoration of the Porch and the Sacred Heart statue in that area of the building
- Stripping and restoration of the Narthex of the Church – with the relocation of the Baptismal Font in that area
- Restoration and decoration of the Sacred Heart Chapel, including restoration of the original stained glass and the work of re-gilding the ceiling
- A new statue of the Sacred Heart was also commissioned for this chapel, and is now in place
- New Stations of the Cross have been donated by the widow of Arthur Fleischmann, and these have been restored and installed.
- New glass doors and an outer grille have been installed together with disabled access to the church for the first time
- The Lady Chapel has been designed after the Holy House in Loreto and a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham was installed and blessed by Bishop Alan Hopes of East Anglia in September 2015.
- The Sanctuary had the dirty paint and Artex stripped away, with the reredos and walls being redecorated and gilded. The carved stone work was highlighted and repainted to show its former glory.
- The statues of Ss. Peter and Paul were restored to their original colours, having been coated in thick and ugly whitewash. They also had their halos restored. Canopies were designed based on photographs of the originals.
- Seven sanctuary lamps were hung, restoring the original designs and replacing those that were ripped out in the 1990s.
- Stripping of the paint from the entire nave and restoration to the brickwork underneath
- Restoration of the statues of Ss. Patrick and Mary Magdalene, as well as the Pieta and Crucifix
- Installation of underfloor heating and new energy-efficient boilers
- Restoration of the pews, with new kneelers fitted
- Laying of new tile and woodblock floors to the nave
We are currently finishing work on the nave and laying the marble in the Sanctuary, which is the last visible part of the church to be restored. This will bring to an end most of the dirty, dusty work which has been a feature of the church for the last few years.
The new chandeliers been hung from angel brackets and the sequencing will be programmed soon, which will allow us to control the lighting much better, depending on what is happening in the church. The somewhat ‘bright lights’ you see at the moment are a temporary feature as the options at the moment are ‘on’ or ‘off’.
Whilst this will be the last of the visible work of the restoration, it is by no means the end of the project. The sacristy will still need restoring, with new cupboards and work areas fitted. Then there is the work of supplying the church with the liturgical items it needs to function as a worthy shrine. We have recently raised the funds for a canopy to allow for processions of the Blessed Sacrament and are now looking to raise money for some very fine candelabra to go either side of the Altar for use on Holy Days and for the 40 Hours Devotions. You can help towards this by clicking this link.
SO: HOW CAN YOU HELP?
The most obvious way is to make a donation towards the restoration work.
This can be done by using one of the forms in the church or downloaded from the website (see the PDF at the bottom of this page which you can open and download to fill in). This will enable you to make a gift by cash, cheque or bank transfer. You can either hand your donation to the priest, put it through the letterbox of the Presbytery or send it to us through the post. If you pay tax, please do complete the Gift Aid part of the form. This will enable to parish to receive a further 25p for each £1 that you donate, at no cost to yourself. You can also make a donation via Paypal on our website Donate page.
- Something that absolutely anyone can do to help and support us is to pray for us and the work that we are carrying out here at Corpus Christi. That really is just as important as the money we receive to carry out the physical work: prayer is fundamental to enable us to keep moving forwards.
So please do pray for us. Thank you and God Bless you.
Fr Alan Robinson
Help us complete the restoration!
Patrons: Joseph Fiennes, John Gilhooly, Patsy Kensit, Frank Skinner, Ann Widdecombe
“In the world we live in, faith, and a still and holy place to nurture it, has never been more important.”
– Lord Fellowes of West Stafford, writer of “Downton Abbey”, speaking of Corpus Christi.
This Parish is part of the Westminster Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust.
Registered Charity Number 233699