Addiscombe - Our Lady of the Annunciation

Bingham Road, Addiscombe, Surrey CRO7

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A large suburban church of the early 1960s, built for an expanding congregation and anticipating the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The church is of portal frame construction, and is a mainstream design of its time. The furnishings by Michael Clark are of note.

In 1925 Fr Henry Prince, parish priest at St Chad’s Norwood, acquired for £3000 a hall in Lower Addiscombe Road which had been built for the Primrose League, an organisation (wound up in the 1990s) which promoted the cause and interests of the Conservative party. A daughter church was established, served from St Chad’s until 1939.

The church was damaged by a bomb in 1940, but holding repairs were carried out by 1943. In 1944 Fr John McKenna took over as parish priest and with the arrival of a curate  in  1947  three  properties  in  Addiscombe  Road  were  acquired.  These  were amongst the oldest houses in the street, having been built in the 1870s by Lady Ashburton. One of them, no. 147, became the presbytery. Meanwhile the church was fully repaired and improvements made, almost doubling the seating capacity (from 140 to 270), between 1950 and 1952.

In 1957-58 a parish hall was built in the grounds of the presbytery, at a cost of £12,500, from designs by T.J. Denny LRIBA of Watford.

In 1962 Denny & Bryan were asked to draw up plans for a new church (figure 1), on land adjoining the parish hall, which was capable of seating 500 and maximising visibility of, and proximity to, the altar. The church was built between 1963 and 1964, the contractors being Messrs Coldman of Dulwich. The cost was £59,000, excluding fittings and furniture.

In 1975 the sanctuary was reordered by Denny & Bryan in preparation for the consecration of the church, which took place on 2 October 1975.

The church was built at about the time of the Second Vatican Council, with a view to encouraging full and active lay participation in the liturgy. The church is of reinforced concrete construction, faced externally in a chestnut-coloured brick, with stone dressings and dark brown pantiles to the roof. It is T-shaped on plan, consisting of a wide nave with narrow circulation aisles, and with transepts giving off the east end (that on the south side partitioned off to form a weekday or winter chapel). Sacristies give off the rear of the sanctuary.

The entrance front has three entrances with hardwood (Sapele) doors under a flat projecting canopy. Above this is a tall west window, its pointed apex following the pitch of the roof. There are similar windows on the end walls of the projecting transepts. Otherwise the windows are plain high level clerestory lights, in threes. At the northwest corner is a brick campanile, with louvred openings in the top stage and a pyramidal roof.

The entrance doors lead into a narthex with a baptistery/repository giving off on the south side. The narthex leads into the nave, where the bays are marked by reinforced concrete piers, which continue down to mark the division with the narrow circulation aisles. Between these the walls are plastered and the ceiling lined with acoustic tiles. There is a choir gallery at the west end, accessed via a stair in the narthex.

As  originally  placed,  the  high  altar  was  freestanding,  but  placed  higher  and  set further back, on a platform and steps of dark green terrazzo paving. The altar is of polished Nabresina marble. Behind this, the east wall is windowless, the wall plane relieved  by raised geometrical patterning  as  a backdrop  to  the sanctuary.  At  the centre is a crucifix designed by Michael Clark. Below this is a white marble tabernacle stand, introduced in 1975, and above this is an original red and gold painted panelled canopy. The white marble ambo was also brought in as part of the 1975 reordering.

In the north transept a recessed Lady altar gives off the east side  top-lit and with a small altar of polished Nabresina marble and a bronze Annunciation, also by Michael Clark (photo bottom right).   The south transept is separated from the rest of the church by a glass screen; it was designed to serve as a winter or weekday chapel, with its own heating and confessionals, and with its own entrance from Bingham Road. It has a Sacred Heart altar of Verde Greco and green Cippolino marble.

The baptistery at the west end now doubles up as a repository. It retains its original red and gold enamelled wrought iron gates, Portland stone tapering octagonal font with Sapele cover, and three stained glass panels depicting the vine, Dove and fishes.

Diocese: Southwark

Architect: T.J. Denny of Denny & Bryan

Original Date: 1963

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed