The building you see today is the third church here. The site was dedicated on St Mary Magdalene Day, 22nd July 1870 and the first building was a ‘tin tabernacle’ mission church opened on 31st October 1870.
The second church was a more substantial brick building ‘brought from Streatham’ and first opened for services on 13th November 1873. It was designated as a Mission Church of St Anne’s, Wandsworth, which then came under the Diocese of Winchester.
Revd. J Garroway Holmes
The first priest was the Revd. J Garroway Holmes who was Priest-in-Charge from 1873 to 1883. The first issue of the Parish Magazine in January 1873 cost one penny per month. In that year there were just 1700 inhabitants in the church’s catchment area, which was not yet legally a ‘parish’.
The foundation stone for today’s church building was laid in 1887, and an article in the ‘Builder’ magazine of 15th December 1988 gives a detailed description of it:
The permanent church of St. Mary Magdalene, Wandsworth Common, has lately been consecrated. The portion of the building at present finished comprises a nave, 28 ft. wide and 84 ft. long, with lofty clear story and lean-to aisles, 11 ft. 6 in. wide, but on the north side, owing to the church school encroaching on part of the site, only two bays of the whole width of the aisle have been erected. In consequence of the nearness of adjoining buildings, there are no side windows to the aisles, the walls of which are divided into many panels, somewhat ornamentally treated at the heads, the divisions being formed by brick piers.
There is a dado of red bricks under, surmounted by a bluish brick string-course. One of the aisle panels is filled with a representation of the Ascension, designed by Mr. Tinworth, and executed by Messrs. Doulton & Co., an instalment of a complete series of Scriptural subjects in terra-cotta. The north porch (with a kind of parvise over), the chancel, organchamber, and vestries have not yet been built, though the chancel arch has been temporarily filled in.
At the west end is a lofty gabled bell-turret, containing two large and one small bells from the foundry of Messrs. Warner & Sons. The turret is of substantial thickness, and well buttressed under, as it was necessary to get in a considerable amount of light in the west nave wall, which has three lofty two-light windows, besides a rose-window.
The base of the bell-turret is partly corbelled over in massive stones above the latter. There are five bays to the nave, a temporary chancel arrangement of wood being formed in the two eastern bays, divided from the nave by a lofty wrought-iron screen, surmounted by a floriated cross. This was executed by Mr. T. J. Gawthorp, of Long-acre.
The nave and aisle roofs are of fir timber, with very substantial trusses, those to the nave being of queen-post form, adapted to a high-pitched roof, and ornamentally treated. There are no intermediate trasses, the purlins being of additional strength in consequence, and the roof boarded and panelled to the under-side of the common rafters, with a view to ultimate decoration in colour.
The windows are glazed with ornamental lead quarries of cathedral rolled glass of various tints mixed with clear white glass. The clearstory windows can all be opened simultaneously, on Elsley’s system. The piers carrying the nave arcade are of Pennant stone, the main walls of grey stock bricks with red brink (from Bracknell) bands of dressings. Doulting stone externally and Westwood ground Bath-stone internally have been sparingly used, The area for seats is paved with solid wood blocks, and ultimately the passages will be laid with encaustic tiles.
The hot-water warming arrangements are by Messrs, Rosser & Russell, the gasfitting by Mr John Court, of Brompton-Road. The contractor is Mr. B. E. Nightingale, of Albert Embankment, and the architect Mr. B. Edmund Ferrey, F.S.A. The church will at present accommodate about 420. The clerk of works was Mr. J. Gard.