A GUIDE TO THE CHURCH BUILDING
The church buildings comprise the church itself with associated meeting rooms, the church hall behind, which used to be the church, and the vicarage. The church was designed by the architect A. Hodson Archard who also designed the Roman Catholic churches of The Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. John the Evangelist at Bushey and St. Aidan at Little Chalfont. It was built by the local builders H. J. and A. Wright. The church is cruciform in shape with a Lady Chapel at the east end. The following is a brief guide to the main features and there are separate notes about the icons.
The statue of St. Michael over the West door is by Joseph Cribb (1892 to 1967) who was Eric Gill’s first apprentice from 1906 to 1913, and continued as his life long associate.
The ceramic plaque of the Madonna at south end of portico used to be on the north end of the old church hall.
The foundation stone on the north wall is from the 1919 building.
The Narthex (west porch)
A statuette of The Good Shepherd is over the door to the nave. This Royal Copenhagen statuette was also by Joseph Cribb.
The original wooden doors were replaced with glass ones as part of the development of St. Michael’s Square. The angels on either side were designed and made by local glass worker, Suzanne Raffelini.
The Holy Water Stoop is a relatively-recent addition.
The organ on the balcony over the Narthex is a very fine 1895 Walker organ which used to be in the old church and was originally from a house in Coleshill. It was rebuilt in 1966.
The statue of Christ the King over the west door used to hang in the old church. The large hanging statue of Christ the King over the sanctuary is an enlarged copy by Joseph Cribb of the above.
The votive candle stand was donated in memory of Lewis Goldsmith and his wife, Anne, resident in the Parish from 1912 to 1949. There is also a Book of Remembrance, the pages of which are turned regularly, so that the names are visible on the anniversary of each death.
The North Transept
This contains the 1965 foundation stone. There is also a moveable oak font and a Pascal (Easter) candle stand.
The South Transept: The Parish office is on the balcony over the south transept.
Around the sanctuary are the communion rails. Within it are seats (sedilias), praying desks (prie-Dieu, literally pray God), two small tables (credence tables)and a lectern. The altar is the only consecrated area in the church and is therefore marked by five crosses representing Christ’s wounds; four on its top and one on the front. It is usually covered with a fair linen cloth and dust cover with a frontal and super-frontal in liturgical colours (colours to suit the church’s seasons). The rustic cross, made by a member of the congregation, has a drape in the liturgical colour. The alms (collection) tray was carved in memory of a former worshipper. Over the Sanctuary are the tower and bell. The tower is of such a height that it can be seen from all parts of the town. The single bell in the tower was made in the Whitechapel Bell-foundry and is rung electrically. A glass screen separates the main church from the Lady Chapel.
The representation of the “Mother of Tenderness” icon was painted by Sister Esther Pollak of Turvey Abbey in 2009
The Lady Chapel
Behind the altar at the east end of the Lady Chapel is a carved and painted reredos (meaning behind the back). It was given by Lady Kenwood in memory of her son who died in the Second World War. It shows Christ nailed to a tree flanked by angels. The four shields on the tree show the scroll of the Torah (the Books of the Law in the Old Testament) and the book of the Gospels; the scales often associated with St. Michael; the food(fish) and the purse that Jesus said that the disciples had to take with them when visiting; and the lily associated with the Virgin Mary. At either end of the top are Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, signifying God. The linen fold screen also came from the old church. A tabernacle (small safe) is used for housing the reserved host (consecrated bread and wine). There is also an aumbry (book cupboard). The statue of the Madonna at the Wayside was presented by the Mothers Union in the 1970s.. The Missal (prayer book) stand was given by a member of the congregation. The sanctuary lamp is lit when the reserved host is in the Tabernacle. The small altar has a small linen cloth, called a Laudian cloth, and small wooden cross. The Bishop’s chair has the coat of arms of the Oxford Diocese. There is also a prie-Dieu.
The copy of Andrei Rublev’s famous ‘Trinity’ icon painted in Moscow between 1408 and 1425 was painted by Sister Esther Pollak of Turvey Abbey in 2009.