Church Building & History

Before you begin reading, you may like to download our trail guide - click here (1.21 Mbyte PDF)

For a detailed description of the stained glass windows in the church, click here.

For information about the 2017 reordering project, click here.

(Click the thumbnail images to see larger versions)

Click here to see: Original architect's drawing - south elevation
Architect G.R. Clarke's drawing for "Maidenhead Church" - original in Berkshire Record Office
1865 Foundation stone. Ceremony performed by Samuel Wilberforce[1], Bishop of Oxford on 4 November. Expenses of ceremony included printing special service sheets, the hire of a tent and the hire and porterage of a harmonium (from exhibition at Berkshire Record Office to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Bishops birth- see BRO records D/P181/5/3,7,8).
Click here to see: Article from Illustrated London News
Article from Illustrated London News
1866 ST LUKE’S consecrated by Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford. New church dedicated 1866. Church in early English style - cost £3500. The architect was George Row Clarke of London and the builder James Griffiths of Eldersfield, Worcs (Illustrated London News, Supplement Nov 10 1866 p 461 No 1398 vol XLIX).

Drawings by Clarke in Berkshire Record Office (5/P/181/6/2) show that the font was originally to be west of the entrance from the tower into the church. The base of the tower itself is marked “children”. On the north east corner of the church was located the organs with the vestry to the east of it.

Click here to see: Map of St Lukes Parish in 18671867  A map of the District Chapelry of St Luke, Maidenhead, annexed from the parish of Cookham, is deposited with the Deed of Annexation at the Diocesan Registry, Oxford.  A copy of the map is made in 1873 and kept at St Luke's Church. For a full resolution scan (10 MBytes), click here
Click here to see: Original floor plan
The architect's drawing showing the original floor plan
1867 First memorial window inserted on south side of chancel. In memory of Dr Bellis (M.Ad Dec 12 1894). Taken out 1952 - now lost.

1869 Church enlarged (length of nave doubled)

Click here to see: Visit by church members to Church Bell Foundry, London
Visit by church members to Whitechapel Bell Foundry, London
Tower added
Calling Bell - Mears & Stainbank, Founders, London ?1870. In July 2006 a group of church members visited the Whitechapel Bell Foundry which incorporates Mears & Stainbank.

Clock Bell - Gillett Bland & Co, Croydon - London 1878. 

1871 East window and north window of chancel added. Latter taken out in 1952, though upper tracery, of winged bull of St Luke, remains. East window by O’Connor (N. Pevsner 1966, “Berkshire”). A second two light O’Connor window inserted on the north side of the nave: Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane and Christ the Shepherd

1872 Chancel decorated. Reredos gift of Rev G.H. Hodson, late incumbent of Cookham Dean (not sure when put in - maybe already there in 1872).

1879 Clock added with faces to the south and east sides of the tower.
Click here to see: View from south east before the spire was added
View from south east before spire was added
1883 Model of St Luke’s made by W.E. Harper. This model is still kept in the church. In 1883 St Luke’s did not have a spire. The spire was added to the model, almost certainly by Harper c. 1894, the original case being modified to take it. The present case (of Perspex and oak) was made by Richard Burdett, PCC Treasurer, in 1991 after the arson attack, refixing the original brass plaque. The plaque has the following inscription. Maidenhead Working Men’s Club Exhibition 1883 W.E. HARPER : 1st Prize – Model of St Luke’s Church

William Harper was parish clerk of St Luke’s for forty years (see inscription on his grave stone on the west side of the churchyard). The Working Men’s Club was based in what is now St Luke’s Community Hall.

1885 Fresco tile painting, Jacobs Ladder, on chancel arch dedicated at Advent in memory of mother of Thomas J. Nunns. See brass plaque on side of arch. Fresco made by W.B. Simpson and Sons of St Martins Lane, London; painter unknown, though has been suggested might be W.J. Neatby. Rev. Thomas Jackson Nunns was Headmaster of Cordwalles College (the forerunner of St Piran’s) from 1873-90 (M.Ad Nov 27 and Dec 18 1992).


1891 Lectern given.

1888 West Window on North Side Aisle "Christ teaching people out of the ship" by Clayton & Bell given in memory of Admiral the Right Honorable Astley Cooper Key G.C.B. Donors include W.H.Grenfell Esq who gave 5 guineas and Rev T.J.Nunns who gave 2 guineas (M.Ad. 28 Nov 1888 p3)

1893 Great West Window inserted and west wall decorated with fresco. Both done by Clayton & Bell. Inscription on a brass plaque under the window reads: To the Glory of God and in affectionate remembrance of the late Francis Goolden F.R.C.S. of the Wilderness, Maidenhead. Churchwarden of this parish from the consecration of the church Aug: 23rd 1866, until his death Feb: 15th 1892. The above window has been inserted and this wall decorated by his friends and relatives in the year of our Lord 1893.

Dr Goolden is said to have been a major donor in the building of the church and his profession may be why it was dedicated to St Luke who was a doctor.

The stained glass of this window is arranged as follows: 

-  Top in the centre the Lamb of God holding a pennant. Below the Lamb and on each side roundels bear an angel with multicoloured wings holding a scroll with the words “Holy, Holy, Holy” The rest of the window above and below the transom is arranged into five lights.

-  Above the transom from the New Testament 1)Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin;2)the Last Supper with the institution of the Eucharist, 3) the Crucifixion;4) the Resurrection; 5)the Descent of the Holy Spirit.:

-  Below the transom from the Old Testament 1)Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden;2) the Falling of the Manna;3)the Brazen Serpent; 4) Jonah delivered from the Whale;5) the Giving of the Law. (SPLM April 1893, p3) Some of this window was put up before Goolden’s death in 1892. By Nov 1883 the centre light had been filled with painted glass by Messrs Clayton & Bell (The Brazen Serpent and the Crucifixion), the cost of the light being £74 10s (The Gospeller for S. Luke’s, Maidenhead, p 4). It seems the early glass may have been too thick/dark for in 1892 “Mr Bell of the well known firm of Clayton & Bell visited the church to inspect the west window and has promised to send a design for carrying out the work which will include a lightening* of the part already inserted and to complete the window following the original plan” (SLPM June 1892 no 18 p6). The Goolden Memorial Fund closed at £427. 10. 3 (SLPM Aug 1892 no 20 p6). Details of Goolden’s funeral in SLPM March 1892 p3. * other early glass in the chancel may also have been too thick, possibly why chancel re-ordered see 1952. The fresco underneath the window was of the four evangelists (St Matthew, St Mark, St Luke and St John)

Also inserted in south aisle, a smaller window by Savell & Co. Window given by Mrs Cope in memory of her late husband, Charles West Cope R.A., and designed from his own drawings - Theme 1) Our Lord as the Good Shepherd 2) The Prodigal Son (SLPM April 1893 p 3 & 7). Note: Charles West Cope R.A.(1811-1890) was a noted Victorian painter of historical, literary and biblical subjects. He took part in the competition to decorate the Houses of Parliament, winning in 1843 a prize for his cartoon of “Trial by Jury” Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. The murals he created in the Peers’ Corridor of the Houses of Parliament between 1856 and 1866 can still be seen by those lucky enough to visit. Cope and his wife are buried in the large cemetery off All Saint’s Avenue, Maidenhead.

For images of this window, click here

Click here to see: Letter suggesting method of fund raising to clear debt incurred in building spire
Letter suggesting method of fund raising to clear debt incurred in building spire
1894 Spire put up. Of Bath Stone, from designs by J.Oldrid Scott F.S.A.; built by Silver & Sons Ltd; vane and double cross on stone pinnacles at each angle of tower made by Barford & Norkett; both local firms (M.Ad Dec. 12, 1894). The architect, Oldrid Scott, was a son of that famous Victorian restorer of cathedrals, George Gilbert Scott and uncle to the architect of Liverpool Cathedral, Giles Gilbert Scott. Note: Inscription on the springing of the spire: “THIS SPIRE WAS BUILT 1894 - REV H. G. J. MEARA VICAR - J. FULLER, T.G. WYATT CHURCHWARDENS - J. OLDRID SCOTT ARCHITECT - SILVER & SONS BUILDER”. Note: Spire required because the roof of the tower was damaged (SLPM March 1894 p3). Both W.W. Astor (William Waldorf Astor of Cliveden) and Mrs Robson subscribed £5 to the tower fund (SLPM no 47 Nov 1894).

1896 Architect’s plans for construction of the daughter church of St Peter’s. Approved and money begins to be collected. Amount to be raised £1400 (SLPM Feb 1897 p3, March p3).

1901 New organ given by Mrs Cope -”£1100 for 1100 pipes” Provided by Wm Hill & Co of Islington (M.Ad, June 19 1901). See above 1893.

1902 Choir stalls given in memory of Elizabeth Meara, sister of Rev. Meara. Original choir seats gift of Rev W.B.Hole.

1910 Wrought iron and gold leaf screen dedicated. Made by local firm of Edward Norkett (given by Rev Meara - M.Ad March 16 1932). Note: Edward Norkett possibly a member of the congregation. In SLPM Nov 1892 p 4, reference to a youth of that name playing the violin in church.

1917 Font cover. Given by Miss Spindler as a memorial to Eustace Spindler who was baptised in the font and whose father has been a sidesman (SLPM Dec 1917).

1918 Death of Mrs Cope (benefactress). SLPM Nov 1918.

1923 War memorial chapel dedicated. Old vestry enlarged & remodelled: builder Messrs J.K. Cooper (local firm - SLPM Aug 1922), architect Mr Cheadle (SLPM Aug 1923); Lord Desborough* gave 5 guineas and lady Desborough 2 guineas (SLPM March 1923). Oak Altar presented by Sawyer family (SLPM Aug 1923). Carved oak altar rails given by Mrs Bird in memory of her father Rev W.R. Rogers, Vicar of Cookham at the time St Luke’s parish was formed (SLPM Nov 1923). *William Henry Grenfell of Taplow Court.

1927 West screen ordered. SLPM Sept 1927.

1928 Money raised for memorial to churchwardens Lemon and Wyatt. SLPM March 1928; used to obtain a south screen for the chapel.

1930 War Memorial Chapel completed. Cost of £2500 built, furnished and decorated the chapel. The third screen and gates dedicated by Bishop Shaw on Sunday 24th August 1930, given by the sons in memory of Thomas Charles Fry, 1846-1930, Dean of Lincoln, and Julia Isabella, his wife, 1846-1928. J.O. Cheadle of New Square, Lincolns Inn designed the chapel and practically everything in it. He designed also the screens worked by Messrs Bowman & Sons of Stamford; the chairs made by Messrs Wake & Dean of Yatton, Somerset, and the wrought iron gates produced by the Widney Manufacturing Company, Maidenhead (SLPM Sept 1930). Sanctuary lamp given by Mr Oakley (Churchwarden when the memorial chapel and new vestry were completed) in memory of his son killed in the Great War.

1932 New vestry built on south east corner dedicated Sunday Feb 21st 1932. As memorial to the late Basil Fry, brother of Canon Fry. At same time a new rotary duplex engine installed to provide wind for the organ, replacing one which was worn out. Vestry, like chapel, designed by J.O. Cheadle of Lincons Inn. It is of Chilmark Stone with Bath Stone plinth and coigns to match the church. Builders Messrs J K Cooper & sons, Maidenhead. Figure of St Luke, work of Esmond Burton of Holborn who also made the bronze tablet, fixed to wall of tower inside vestry (SLPM March 1932). On Bronze Tablet on Tower: In memoriam Basil Homfray Fry, natus XVI, Kal. Apr. A.D. MDCCCLXXXIV; obiit IX Kal Apr. MCMXXXI,; schol. Berkhamstediensis MDCCCXCIV-MCMIII; artium magister ex Aede Christi Oxoniensi; Consvl; miles; poeta; philosophus; scientiae evitor; exemplar amicitiae; amicis deflendus (In translation, recording the dates of birth and death; his schooling at Berkhamsted; being an M.A. of Christ’s College, Oxford; a Consul; a Soldier, Poet and Philosopher; a Student of Science; an example to all around him; deplored by all his friends) (M.Ad Wed Feb 24th 1932).

1952 Chancel altar reordered. By Rev Morcom-Harness in memory of Canon Fry; reredos taken down, Victorian wall frescoes white-washed, stained glass side windows taken out; that on the south side, the first memorial window of 1867, replaced with plain glass.

1953 Choir seats moved into east end of nave. Reasons: 1) acoustic 2) aesthetic 3) psychological (SLPM April 1953 p6). Note: Present large brass candlesticks, on either side of chancel altar, consist in the main of ornate gas brackets which have been modified to take candles. Presumably this was done when the church switched from gas to electric lighting.

Click here to see: Programme for centenary celebrations, 1966
Programme for centenary celebrations, 1966
Click here to see: Article about floodlighting for the centenary celebrations
Article about floodlighting for the centenary celebrations
1966 Centenary of St Luke’s Celebrated. M.Ad Oct 21, 22 & 28 1966. The church was temporarily floodlit for the celebrations.

1977 Nave altar established as project to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The construction was carried out entirely by members of the congregation.

1990 Organ refurbished with a new wind chest. Organ blower moved from room in corner of vestry block to new position on first floor of tower.

Click here to see: Newspaper photograph of Jacobs Ladder fresco
Local newspaper features photo of the newly cleaned Jacob's Ladder fresco (see 1885 above), taken to raise funds for the restoration
1991 Arson attack. Vestry gutted and many records lost; interior of church cleaned except the west window; smashed window on north side repaired by Chapel Studios. See trail guide for details. Cleaning necessitated by fire damage reveals, in its full glory, the fresco tile painting, Jacob’s Ladder, on the chancel arch (M.Ad Nov 27 1992).

The organ also had to be stripped down and cleaned again. 

1993 Within the outer shell of the vestry, a new parish centre is built. The centre includes a large meeting room with kitchen, two toilets (one suitable for use by disabled persons), and storage facilities. The area under the organ was also tidied up at the same time, with the double doors to the main tower door being restored. In addition an internal roof above the bells on the second floor of the tower, which was probably inserted in the 1950's to catch snow blown in through the louvers, was removed, and a bell/spire inspection platform built. 

1996 Clock faces renovated.

2000 New interior lighting installed. The lighting consists of a variety of up- and down-lighters together with fluorescent lighting to the 12 clerestory windows of the nave. The lighting can be set to a number of different preset settings suitable for use for morning and evening services, concerts, etc.

In addition, permanent floodlighting to the church spire was installed to celebrate the millennium. Spire continues to be lit to date, sponsored by congregation as a thanks offering.

Wall hanging in chapel
View of wall hanging in chapel
2002 Memorial chapel reordered and dedicated on Sunday 16th June. Altar rails reused as part of screen to create a vestry area in the chapel (see above 1923). A spectacular new wall hanging is hung on the east wall in colours designed to complement and reflect the stained glass window above. Hanging, designed by Margaret McConkey, was made by the ladies recorded on the back of the quilt. Inscription reads:

Completed August 2002
Jill Bevitt
Ann Burdett
Sheila Hedges
Margaret McConkey
Mary Pennington
Win Reynolds
Ruth Sheppard
Jean Tyrwhitt Drake

2004 Ramp installed in south porch. The floor of the south porch was re-graded to provide a ramped access into the building for wheelchair users. New floor tiles match those used in the rest of the building.

2004 West window restored : stained glass restored by Chapel Studios, stonework by A.F Jones 

2005 Clock faces replaced. The original cast iron skeleton dials had become very corroded due to en earlier repair where they were fixed to a new steel sub frame. Some sections of cast iron fell off, necessitating immediate repair. New skeleton dials to match the originals were commissioned and installed by Gillett & Johnson of London.

2008 New sound reinforcement system fitted. The previous four nave and two choir loudspeakers dating back to the 1970's (although updated with new cabling and amplifier in 1994) were replaced with the latest digitally optimised system with 12 compact loudspeakers to the nave, side aisles and choir, and new fixed and radio microphones System designed by DM Music of London and funded from the church's Benefactors' Fund.

SLPM: St Luke’s Parish Magazine M.Ad: Maidenhead Advertiser


Ann Darracott June 1998; revised October 2010


[1] *Third son of William Wilberforce, the philanthropist and advocate of the abolition of the slave trade. Wilberforce born 7 Sept 1805 was Bishop of Oxford from 1845-1869. His birth was commemorated on 7 Sept 2005 at a service in The Minster Church of St Mary the Virgin in Reading to which representatives of the churches he reopened or consecrated were invited.