Abbey Wood - St David

Finchale Road, Abbey Wood, London SE2

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A functional modern church of 1964, built to serve the Abbey Wood Estate. The exterior is plain, while the interior is notable for a flank wall largely of coloured glass.

The mission was founded from St Benet’s church, Abbey Wood, in order to serve the new Abbey Wood housing estate (developed in the 1950s by the London County Council). From 1960, Mass was said in a hall in Grovebury Road, and later in the new school,  run  by  the  La  Sainte  Union  sisters.  The  present  church  was  originally designed as a two-storey parish hall. During the construction works plans changed and the building was modified to become the church. (Apparently, the gallery is a remnant of the intended upper storey.) The architect was Bernard Moss of Bernard F. Moss & Partners. St David’s church was opened on 31 May 1964 and was the first church in the diocese dedicated to St David (of Wales). The church is able to seat a congregation of 300. According to photos of 1965, the current benches, crucifix and tester are original. A high altar raised on three steps and the altar rails have since been removed.

The church was built in 1964 to designs by Bernard Moss. It is built using black bricks, laid in stretcher bond. The plan is rectangular with ancillary spaces to the south, including the south aisle, sacristy and a confessional. The west front has a large doorway with a five-light window above. To the left is a large fibreglass relief of St David (1964). The north elevation has a large metal cross and the name of the church in metal lettering. Below are three small square windows to the narthex. A large window occupies the centre of the north wall, surrounding a central brick panel supported by four lozenge-shaped pillars.

Internally, there is a narthex below a gallery at the west end. To the left is a small meeting room, to the right a kitchen and the stairs to the gallery. The nave has four columns on each side. Those on the north side are set closely to the wall, while beyond the columns on the south is a narrow aisle. At the west end of the south aisle is a small space with a Lady altar, which is also used as a confessional. The north wall has  a large window with  coloured  glass,  of  a three-foot  wide line surrounding  a central brick panel. (The window line is only interrupted by two doors on either side of the brick panel.) The glass features abstract red shapes in front of a blue background. The individual glass bricks are four inches long and 1½ inches wide. (According to an account in The Cork Examiner of 1964, this glass was made at Buckfast Abbey; although Evinson states it was supplied from Dublin.) The Stations of the Cross are made from coloured and painted glass, apparently by Hardman. The south aisle is lit by clear-glazed clerestorey windows and glazed doors in the aisle.

The straight-headed sanctuary arch is timber panelled with statues of the Virgin and Child to the left and St Joseph to the right. The lectern, altar, font and tabernacle stand are made from rusticated blocks of English limestone. The remaining sanctuary furniture is of timber. Above the tabernacle hangs a large timber crucifix with Christ the King, carved by craftsmen in the Dolomites, with a geometrically coloured tester above. At the east end of the south aisle is the sacristy.

Diocese: Southwark

Architect: Bernard F. Moss & Partners

Original Date: 1964

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed