Open House Festival

St Paul's, Newington


Woodroffe Buchanan and Coulter, 1955

Walworth Road, Lorrimore Square, SE17 3QU

Modern architecture church with large copper and lead roof and concrete, brick and stained glass external structure. Marble, wood and plaster interior and artwork by Sculptor Freda Pinto and Gerald Holtom.

Getting there




Elephant & Castle


P5, 133, 12, 35





Post-war churches, whether wholly new or partial replacements for their bomb damaged predecessors, rarely rise above the mediocre. Money was always scarce and traditional building skills, common before the war, could no longer be taken for granted. Nor was it clear which style should be chosen or what kind of compromise should be struck between tradition and contemporary building technology.

St. Paul’s, Lorrimore Square, distinguishes itself as one of the very few new Anglican churches built in London after the war which tries to break out from the past and adopt what then passed for full-blooded modernism. It replaces an early Gothic revival church of 1856, destroyed by fire in 1941, which had once been a controversial centre for High Church ritualism before its congregation migrated en masse to St. Agnes, Kennington. Only the tower and spire now survive from this original church: everything else is the work of H.G. Coulter of Woodroffe, Buchanan and Coulter and dates from 1955-60 (although consecration took place in 1956).

The New Church

The new church retains the traditional plan with a long nave, transepts and an east end Lady Chapel but expresses them within a framework of reinforced concrete, walls of concrete blocks with small offsetting windows, and a roof of strange wedge shaped panels. Pevsner refers to “a restless, somewhat self-consciously modern exterior, with spiky gables and dormers in a copper roof and a zig-zag honeycomb patterned side-windows . . . the interior is pleasantly calm, with subdued lighting and a ceiling of interesting shapes”.

The carving of the risen Christ is by Freda Skinner, and the coloured glass by Goddard and Gibbs.

Outside, a small rooftop fleche, covered in copper, helps maintain the church’s focal position within the late 1950s Brandon Estate, one of the LCC’s pioneering post-war redevelopment schemes for the rebuilding of South London.

St Paul's Today: Living God’s Love in our Community

St Paul’s is a friendly diverse church in the central catholic tradition of the Church of England. Our worship aims to be prayerful and lively, thoughtful and joyful, varied and spirit-filled. We value all ages and cultures; we value scripture, tradition, reason and experience. We have a long-standing tradition of social action and outreach, and we love parties.

We look forward to meeting you.

Information on your tour is accessible from the website at

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