St Mellitus Church History
St Mellitus Church has been a part of Hanwell for 100 years. The mosaic in the newly renovated church garden - a result of a community art project - celebrates the many facets of Hanwell town.
Here you'll find some of the history of the church as well as some of the history of St Mellitus himself
St Mellitus - the first Bishop of London
The first question people ask about this church is “Who was St Mellitus?” The brief answer is that he was the first Bishop of London, although there is mention of a bishop thought to be from London at the Council of Arles in 314. Mellitus was sent by Pope Gregory as part of a contingent to reinforce the Augustinian mission. He was consecrated as a missionary bishop to the Saxons in 604 and went on to become the third Archbishop of Canterbury in 619.
He died on the 24th April in 624. It is said that the efficacy of his prayers prevented a fire from destroying the cathedral in Canterbury. Bede also notes that Mellitus had a fine mind and suffered from gout! Mellitus is one of the illustrations on the current Bishop of London's Saints of London cope.
As part of the celebrations of the 1400th anniversary of the London Diocese the Bishop of London preached at our Patronal Festival on 24th April 2004 and you can find out a lot more about Mellitus by reading his excellent sermon.
St Mellitus Church history 1910-2010
As part of our centenary celebrations in 2009/10 we commissioned one of our members, Susan Toft, to compile a history of the the life and times of St Mellitus Church.
St Mellitus Church - the building
The church building is an imposing Gothic style building of the Edwardian period situated on a busy cross roads in the heart of Hanwell. It was designed by the office of Sir Arthur Blomfield in 1909, built by Messrs J Dorey & Co of Brentford and consecrated by the Bishop of London in March 1910. It is a landmark building with a distinctive gable end housing three recently restored bells.
The interior is spacious and contains many original features. In the words of the inspector who recommended grade II listing: “The church embodies the romantic piety of Edwardian Anglicanism, which sought to recreate the settings of medieval worship in order to enliven the spiritual life of growing suburbs such as Hanwell”. Our church architect considers it to be one of the finest examples of Blomfield’s work.
The large east window was originally plain. The stained glass was first proposed in 1917 as a war memorial but that plan was superseded by the eventual erection of the Calvary cross and surrounding garden. The design for the window can be seen in a framed drawing by Christopher Webb near the side entrance to Church Rd. The original thoughts expressed in the minute book from 1917 describe: “in the centre light the ascension and in the rose over it the descent of the Holy Spirit. On the left and right St George and St Alban, soldier saints, and St Mellitus and St Augustine in the outer lights”. From the painting it can be seen how this design changed and from looking at the window it can be seen that it was only partially completed, presumably due to a lack of funds.
In the Lady Chapel the east end window is a memorial to scout Owen Harwood who gave his life to save another scout from drowning in the river Brent in 1916. On the south wall of the chapel the window is dedicated to Charles and Anne Richards.