St. Simon and St. Jude

Roman Catholic Church, Streatham Hill

Parish Refurbishment, renovation & restoration programme of Works - June 2018:

Here at St. Simon and St. Jude R.C. the parish is proud of its history and our priests, both past and present. All parish priests, during their tenure at St. Simon and St. Jude R.C. have, with the help, support and assistance of the parishioners, contributed to the maintenance, upkeep and refurbishment of the church buildings and its infrastructure.  Front of ChurchCurrently the parish has agreed  and is embarking on a refurbishment, renovation and restoration programme and works, focussing on undertaking a deep cleaning of all the interior aspects and fabric of the church and additionally renovation and redecorating the church's interior space.

As mentioned in our newsletter and reported on this dedicated webpage, our church refurbishment programme is progressing very well. The programme is being supported and led by the parish refurbishment, renovation and restoration team. This team is comprised of a number of dedicated parishioners who have a good range of skills and experience, see below, for the Project Team and their skillsets and roles.

 Project Team

 Skillset / Role

 Fr. Habte

 Sponsor / Project Manager

 Helen Dias

 Chartered Surveyor and Planner

 Matt Kemp


 Bryan Hudspeth

 Finance Committe Chair and Office Furniture Installation

 Ray Poulter


 Marta Rocha

 Architect (Historic Building Specialist)

 Rui Tavares

 Structural Engineer and Contractor

 Marc Bernard

 Specialist Contractor & Interior Design - cleaning of wooden ceiling, beams and interior brickwork



 Support Team

 Role / Task

 Sophie Dias - Hudspeth

 Architecture Student - Preparation of illustrative photographs and lighting set up display this to help parishioners visualise and select flooring tiles and choose fabric for chairs. Demo on 7th July, after Saturday (evening) Mass and Sunday (morning) mass 8th July, 2018, (before the BBQ).

 Mary McElhone

 Restoration and cleaning of statues and artefacts

The refurbishment, renovation and restoration team together with Fr. Habte identified some key objectives, goals and aims, for this programme of works, these are listed below.

  1. Cleaning the brickwork and the wooden beams and ceilings.
  2. Replacing the flooring in the nave and entrance.
  3. Re-upholstering the chairs in the church
  4. Improving and updating the lighting in the church.
  5. Artefact and statue restoration and cleaning

Scroll down this webpage,  where project goals, further work details and progress updates are provided.

The parish renovation and refurbishment works have now commenced, as the parishioners will know or will have heard the programme and schedule of works, of our church renovation and refurbishment will include the following;

  1. Cleaning the church's wooden ceiling, wooden beams and washing the exposed brick work this work has now started in earnest the brickwork above the gallery is being cleaned and you can see for Refurbishment gallery scaffoldyourselves the difference it has already made. This is an arduous task as the brick surface is carefully handwashed, (the brick surface is washed at least three times first with sugar soap, followed by second wash with a light washing up solution and a final third wash using a mild salt solution) to remove the accumulated dust and stains from candle smoke that had accumulated over the years. Care is being taken to ensure that both the original lime wash details on the brick wall are preserved and the integrity of the exposed brick surface is not compromised. Thus, the process is slow and requires hard physical work during daylight hours. The aim is to clean the entire brickwork inside the church and at the same time, clean all the exposed wooden timberwork and the wooden ceiling.

Cleaned Brick   Gallery Ladder Refurb

Refurb Gallery ladder

 Refueb brick organ pipes

While the refurbishment programme commenced in mid-June 2018, as we now enter early July 2018, we can all start to see the progress that is being made. Though there is still much more work Cleaned gallery bricksto do, parts of the interior brickwork that has been cleaned has taken on a new appearance, this is a testament to the hard work being carried out daily. It is an exciting time for the parish, as the interior of the church are refreshed. The photographs left and below illustrate the progress that is being made and whenever one enters the church, it is a delight to see the daily transformation taking place inside our church.

It is getting harder to remember how dark the interior space was before the cleaning commenced, as the brickwork hue was then shaded to an almost brown / black patina or colour in appearance.

Cleaned brick archCleaned brickwork support bricks


As of 6th July, 2018 Marc Bernard and his colleague have almost finished cleaning the interior brick work and Mary McElhone is also working hard on cleaning all the statues in the church. As mentioned the walls and statues had over the years accumulated a film of dirt, dust and were covered in candle smoke.To see how the work on cleaning the statues is progressing please scroll down.

  1. Replacing the flooring in the nave and entrance (foyer): The existing linoleum flooring is starting to break up and needs replacing, not least because the tiles contain very low levels of asbestos. We will employ a specialist contractor to remove and safely dispose of the old flooring. We considered reinstalling a wood, tiling or stone floor. However, all had practical problems in installation, primarily raising the floor at the doorways which have minimum height clearance.
Through Ray Poulter, a parishioner who is an architect, we have been offered trade price for Amtico flooring. The team have looked at many samples and chosen a selection for the parishioners to see. These are natural stone types that we think will complement the existing brick work, carpets and oak chairs.

  1. Reupholstering the chairs in the church: The chairs are now over 20 years old; the fabric covers are badly stained, and the foam padding is decomposing. Having spoken to several companies, guidance was sought for the best way to refurbish and reupholster the chairs using the most appropriate fabric or material.The advice received was that the church’s requirements would be best met by considering a textile fabric that is hard wearing, easy to wipe clean, comfortable and is durable with a long life. More importantly, for the church, the finished product needs to both look attractive and fit sympathetically with both the wooden chairs and rest of the church.

Different coloured samples of the material will be available for parishioners to see. The cheapest way of doing this work is to have new pads and seats made in a factory and remove and replace them ourselves – we may need volunteers to help, as there are 104 chairs!! We are also considering changing the material on the kneelers.

Refurbishment, renovation  & restoration: Presentation and next stages.

A key part of the next stage is asking you, the parishioners, for your comments and inputs on the options we are considering, for the works that are going to impact and change the appearance of the church to the greatest degree:

1. Improving and updating the lighting in the church - see box below please.

2. Replacing the flooring in the nave and entrance - see box below please.

3. Re-upholstering the chairs in the church - see box below please.

 Reflooring the nave, the hallway and chair upholstery - DISPLAY 7th AND 8th JULY, 2018.

If you can spare few minutes, please stay behind after the masses on Saturday 7th July (evening) and Sunday (morning) 8th July, 2018 (before the BBQ). There will be a lighting display and samples of the flooring and chair materials we are considering for parishioners to view. There will be a series of illustrative photographs showing the different flooring and seating combinations. This demonstration was prepared by a parishioner, (an architecture student) to help the team and the parish see what the church could look like when the work is complete. If you have any queries or want more explanation, please ask any of the team members* some of whom will be on hand to answer your question and listen to your comments.

If you have an alternative view or opinion, please see Fr. Habte at any time in the coming week. Thank you.


  1. Improving and updating the lighting in the church: There is a practical need to make major changes to the existing church lighting because of the following:


  • the church is not well illuminated, and we have several dark spots where it is difficult to read
  • the Sanctuary is not evenly lit. This does not help us to highlight or draw our attention towards the spiritual and liturgical focal points, such as, the Tabernacle and the Crucifix.
  • the existing lights on the Sanctuary are on the vertical tracking which are fall too low, and the lights shine directly on the celebrant’s face.
  • the ceiling lights hang too low and restrict the view of the altar from parts of the gallery

Our electrician, parishioner Matt Kemp, advises us that he is no longer able to maintain the light bulb fittings on the hanging metal circular lights as they are too old, degraded and breaking up. As will be seen there are missing bulbs on these fittings, consequently we are now unable to replace these bulbs, due to the age of the fittings and bulb holders that are broken.


Having sought advice from a specialist lighting consultant, theexisting ceiling light cradles recommendation was to replace all the hanging lights with multiple lights mounted on discreet tracks running at a higher level (than the current fittings), where the walls meet the ceiling. This new position would light both the nave and the ceiling, making the church look bigger.

Matt Kemp has been working closely with the lighting consultant to check on the practicalities of this new system. We will have one of these new types of light mounted on the scaffolding tower, so you can get a bit of an idea of what it would look like.

We are also considering ways to improve the lighting under the gallery and for the Divine Mercy Window /gallery stairs and for the porch / entrance hall.

Progress Reports:

While the brick work is being cleaned it has provided an opportunity to also clean and restore the statues and artefacts in the church. These statues had over the years accumulated a light film or coating of dust and were also over the years covered in candle smoke.

Please see below this is how the Madonna statue looked like prior to being cleaned.

Madonna before CleaningMadonna before Cleaning

And this is how the Madonna statue now appears, this statue is sited at the rear of the church in the small side chapel.

Madonna Rear after cleaningMadonna after Cleaning


Madonna after cleaningh

Cleaning was also undertaken on the Sacred Heart statue, here are some views of the before and after stages in the cleaning process.

Sacred Heart Hand Before CleaningSacred Heart hand After Cleaning

The photographs below illustrate the 'before and 'after' cleaning stages. And there is a marked difference in the statue, both in terms of clarity and details and the condition of the paintwork.

Sacred Heart Feet BCSacred Heart Feet AC

Cleaning was also carried out on the statue known as The infant Jesus of Prague, or Child of Prague. Volunteer(s) cleaning the artefacts in the church are taking great care when carrying out the cleaning process, as some artifacts are both aged and delicate. As an example of this duty of care, it took five hours to clean both the Sacred Heart and Infant of Prague statues. If you wish to know more about the Infant of Prague or Infant Jesus please click here.

Baby JesusBaby Jesus

And here are the rear views of the statue, known as Infant of Prague or Infant Jesus. Further information on some of the artefacts and statues in the church can be found on the Parish Tour webpage please click here for more details.

Baby Jesus Rear view BCBaby Jesus rear view AC

Baby Jesus AC front view

The statue of St. Anthony of Padua also underwent a cleaning process that took around two and a half hours to complete, for just this one statue. The photographs below show the statue in the uncleaned state.

St. Anthony of Padua - Before CleaningSt. Anthony of Padua - Before Cleaning

Following the extensive two and a half hours of cleaning the statue now appears as seen below.

St. Anthony of Padua - After CleaningSt. Anthony of Padua - After Cleaning

These close up details of the foot of the statue better evidence the before and after cleaning look.

St. Anthony of Padua - Before Cleaning FootSt. Anthony of Padua - After Cleaning Foot

The following photographs below show St. Anthony of Padua after cleaning.

St. Anthony of Padua - After Cleaning top of statueSt. Anthony of Padua - After Cleaning

Here the comparision of the 'before' and 'after' photographs are self evident.

St. Anthony of Padua - After CleaningSt. Anthony of Padua - Before Cleaning

Naturally some level of disruption is to be expected in our church services during the months of June, July and August 2018, but we will try to minimise that disruption as much possible.

Please be patient and help us, by trying to be as careful as you can, when visiting the church both, during and outside Mass times, and when exiting the premises.

Thank you. Rev. Fr. Habte


RC Archdiocese of Southwark CIO Registered Incorporated Charity No. 1173050

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