THE RESTORATION OF ST ANTONY'S
This church, dedicated to St Antony of Padua, was erected in the 1880s to serve as the abbey church of the Franciscan Friary which was built alongside it. St Antony’s has the largest congregation in the diocese of Brentwood.
The church was designed by the famous house of architects, Pugin & Pugin, and for almost 100 years, before a major internal re-ordering took place in the 1960s, it displayed the full panoply of the Gothic revival architecture and church furniture associated with this school. A fuller architectural description can be found by clicking on this link which will take you to the Taking Stock website of Catholic Churches in England and Wales. Here are some photographs of the interior at that time.
Now, in conjunction with the Diocesan Historic Churches Commission, an architect has been appointed to lead the restoration project of the interior of the church. We plan, over some years, to refurbish the whole of the interior of our church which is badly in need of cleaning and re-decorating. At the same time we hope to be able to restore some original features of this historic building.
To this end, the back wall of the sanctuary has been removed so the architect can study what can be done to salvage and restore our sanctuary. Here is a photograph of the interior of the church as it was very recently, prior to removal of the false screen.
After the false screen was removed it was wonderful to see that most of the original stone work is still in place and two beautiful scenes from the life of St Antony have been revealed. Unfortunately, the stone statue of St Antony, that was the central piece, is no longer there but we hope to be able to replace it.
By July 2020, we were able to see the beautiful colour of the stone after cleaning. Watch this video to see all the progress that has been made so far:
Now, in October 2020 we are extending our fundraising initiative to enable us to reach our goal of restoring the whole church. We have put together a documentary video and written a booklet, to assist us in this campaign. Please take time to watch the video and read the booklet, and pass the information on to anyone you think might be interested or able to support us.
The St Antony of Padua Restoration Campaign is now live on https://justgiving.com/fundraising/stantonyfg
We pray we can give back to St Antony’s its original splendour to the glory of God! Fr John