Bexley - St John Fisher

Thanet Road, Bexley, London DA5

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A modern church of 1974-75, on a central plan. It is located in the Old Bexley conservation area.

In 1934 Fr James Malone of Crayford bought a site in Bexley for £750 with a view to build a temporary church, of the type he had already erected in Bexleyheath and would build again at Bostall Park. The temporary church at Bexley was opened in 1935, the same year as Bexley railway station. The site was cheap as it was ‘back land’ at the time, i.e. it did not have a street frontage and was accessed from a path off the high street. Thanet Road was only extended as far as the presbytery in the 1950s, and in the 1960s it was connected to the high street.

In 1955 Bexley was canonically erected as a parish, with Fr Vincent Ryan as the first parish priest. The presbytery was built in 1960-61. During the 1960s the first plans were drawn up for a new church; however, the project lapsed due to lack of funds. The second parish priest, Fr Joseph Coleman, picked up the project again on his arrival in 1971. Some of the church land was sold to finance the building. Work started on 30 September 1974 and the church opened exactly a year later. The architects  were  Ivor  Day  &  O’Brien  of  Bristol,  and  the  building  cost  just  over £80,000.   The   builders   were   Wiltshiers   Building   Ltd   of   Canterbury.   It   was consecrated on 31 October 1978. The next parish priest, Fr Thomas Power proceeded with the building of the hall, to designs by the same architects. Work started on the hall in the summer of 1982 and it was opened on 30 April 1983.

 

The church is actually facing southwest. This description uses the conventional liturgical orientation.

The church was built in 1974-75 to designs by the architects Ivor Day & O’Brien. It is built in brown brick, laid in stretcher bond, with synthetic roof slates. The plan is square,  with  a  deep  porch  to  the  west.  The  roof  is  pyramidal  in  two  stages, interrupted  by  a  clerestorey  window  band  above  the  inner  square.  The  apex  is crowned by a metal cross.

To the west it has a wide and deep porch, with a gabled roof on brick piers. Above the three  entrance  doors  is  a  statue  of  St  John  Fisher.  The  porch  also  contains  the narthex with a repository. Beyond is the square worship space. The upper roof and the clerestorey window band are supported on four square pillars, dividing the space into  an  inner  square  and  an  outer  square.  The  east  side  of  the  outer  square  is occupied by the sacristy and confessionals, behind the sanctuary. Benches occupy both inner and outer squares. The roofs are panelled in pine, while the brickwork on the walls is exposed. There are two windows at the west, and one each at the north and south sides, all with yellow and blue coloured glass. In front of the window at the north side is a statue of St Theresa. In the northeast corner is a statue of the Sacred Heart. In the corresponding positions on the south side are statues of the Virgin (southeast corner) and of St Joseph (against the south wall).

The sanctuary on a three-tier brick and timber platform backs against the brick wall to the sacristy. The space is highlighted by shallow brick piers and bricks laid in soldier courses. In front hangs a carved timber crucifix. The lectern and font are of timber. The altar is of Ancaster stone on brick piers; the tabernacle stand has a mensa of the same stone, with timber supports. The presidential chair is elaborately carved with angels, tracery and a Passion scene. The carved timber Stations are minimal scenes, unframed. The doors and benches are of mahogany.

Diocese: Southwark

Architect: Ivor Day & O’Brien

Original Date: 1974

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not listed