Chancel ceiling before restoration

Before restoration

Photos of the Chancel taken in 2011 pre-restoration. For the Chancel Restoration Project document please see below.

Photos © Gordon Giles

Before Restoration

Chancel Restoration Project

Built in 1883, the Parish Church of St Mary Magdalene, Enfield, stands in a commanding position atop Windmill Hill and is a well-known local landmark. Commissioned by Georgiana Twells and designed by William Butterfield, it contains within it some very fine Victorian Wall Paintings and a painted ceiling, which only those who have ventured inside will have seen. Even then, in recent years, the ability to actually see these paintings has been diminished by age and dirt, and in by occasional water ingress over the last century. With the beauty and significance of the artwork in mind and in the hope of restoring this hidden gem of Victorian art to its former glory, the Vicar, the Reverend Gordon Giles and the Parochial Church Council have decided to have the paintings and ceiling cleaned and the damage rectified in a project that will cost around £80,000.

On the East wall, the Nativity of the East window is extended with the depiction of the Angel announcing Christ’s birth to the Shepherds, on the left side of the window, and the Magi approaching on the right. The Shepherds are framed by the text ‘Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy’, the Magi by ‘The Gentiles shall come to Thy Light’. On the North wall, the prophets depicted in the windows, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, are joined by patriarchs and kings. They were chosen to show Christ's human genealogy and begin at the West end with Adam and Abel and finish with Jesse and David at the East end. On the South wall, the four Evangelists in the stained glass windows are joined by Saints associated with the spread of Christianity to the Gentiles, and particularly to England. They include St. Alban and St. Helen (the mother of Constantine), as well as St. Columba and St. Augustine. Both sets of figures are ‘topped and tailed’ with appropriate Biblical texts and are shown with symbols of their work and faith.

The ceiling painting was the last gift of Georgiana Twells before her death in December, 1898. Painted by Buckeridge, the figures on the ceiling, represent the whole company of angels from cherubim to archangels, and they are shown with symbols of the Church - a dragon, a lily, a fish and staff, a book and scroll. The seraphim are shown below the archangels, holding scrolls bearing the words ‘Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus’. Next to the archangels are the four angels of the Passion, below which the cherubim are depicted. Below the seraphim and cherubim are sixteen panels bearing gold shields, each shield carrying a symbol of the Church or the Apostles.

Each angel is presented in a canopy of elaborate arcading. The angels have gold wings, the seraphim are red-winged and the cherubim blue-winged. The wings are folded and finely feathered. There is extensive use of gilding. The angel faces are fine-featured and emotionless.

The paintings over the chancel are highly decorative, extensive use having been made of gold ragged stars on a blue background, and white roses on a red background. There are gold shields on which the letters ‘HIS’ appear, and two gold shields carrying a pot of ointment, the symbol of St. Mary Magdalene.

Gordon Giles & Joy Heywood