OUR CHURCH AND ITS HISTORY
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This beautiful church was designed by the eminent architect Charles Parker in an Italianate style, with early Christian and Renaissance influences. The entire cost was met by Alexander Raphael, a Catholic Armenian whose family came from India. He became the first Roman Catholic to be elected Sheriff of London after the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829. Raphael built the Church in 1846 as a family chapel and named it after St Raphael. It was completed in 1848. But soon after, in November 1850, he died.
Through successive bequests, the Church and land became the property of Captain Hon. George Savile, brother to the Sixth Earl of Mexborough, a Yorkshire family. Lady Anne Savile, daughter of the fourth Earl, lived nearby in Thames Ditton and a plaque is to be seen inside the Church commemorating her death. Unlike many other members of the Savile family buried in the vault under the High Altar, she has no known grave.
The church was sold to the Diocese of Southwark after the Second World War and is now on the Registered List of Buildings of historical and architectural interest. It is one of the finest examples of Victorian Italianate architecture in Britain [see Structure].
A memorial tablet to Alexander Raphael was placed over the main door, leading from the porch to the main body of the church. Written in Latin, it testifies to his generosity, unswerving faith and deep integrity. It also refers to the honours bestowed upon him, because of his great merits, by Pope Pius IX.
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St Raphael’s Church ©