Chingford - Our Lady of Grace and St Teresa of Avila

Kings Road, Chingford, London E4

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A late church in the Arts & Crafts tradition, built in 1931 with additions of 1939 and 1955-56. It was a thank-offering by the convert George W. Martyn who designed and built the church and presbytery. The timber- framed south porch was carved by Donald Potter, a pupil of Eric Gill. The overall quality of materials and decoration is high. 

In 1914 a Mass Centre was established by priests from St George’s, Walthamstow, and Mass was initially said in various pubs and the Royal Forest Hotel. The first church, a small hall, was opened in December 1919. (The official opening took place in November 1920.) In November 1923 the first resident priest arrived and the parish was erected in October 1924. The foundation stone for the present church was laid by Bishop Doubleday on 4 October 1930. The nave and a temporary sanctuary were opened by the Bishop on 7 June 1931. (The bricks were apparently from the foundations from the railway bridge across Kings Road which was then being demolished.) The completed church (with transepts and sanctuary) was opened on 1 December 1939 and consecrated by Bishop Beck on 13 May 1949. The cost of the church was £5,500, most of which came from donors including Edward Eyre. The builder and architect for church and presbytery was George W. Martyn of Chingford. Martyn designed and built the church at cost of labour and materials, i.e. without profit, as a thank offering for his reception as a Catholic. The tower was added in 1955-56.

The organ was built in 2000 by William Drake of Buckfastleigh. In 2002, the Dublin firm  of  Richard  Hurley  &  Associates  undertook  a  sympathetic  reordering,  which introduced new stone furnishings by Angela Godfrey. The contractors were Messrs Frederick J. French.

The building is fully described in the list description (see below), which, however, predates the 2002 reordering. It omits the completion dates for the various phases. Also, the tower is more correctly at the southwest and the window in the Sacred Heart chapel is not a cinquefoil but a multifoil with eight lobes.   The concluding sentence of the list entry is also somewhat surprising; Gothic Revival Catholic churches are plentiful, albeit less common in the interwar years.

The list description has little detail on the major furnishings:

•     The east rose window by Veronica Whall, 1939

•     The north window in the Lady Chapel, also by Whall, 1939 

•     The carved Stations of the Cross by Kathleen Nicholas

The involvement of Donald Potter of Chingford (1902-2004), a pupil of Eric Gill, who carved the south porch decoration, also merits inclusion.

 

The 2002 reordering introduced some new paving in the sanctuary, as well as furnishings of stone carved with restrained ornament by Angela Godfrey, including the altar, lectern, the hexagonal font (in the north aisle) and the tabernacle stand (in the  north  transept  chapel).  Behind  the  metal  tabernacle  with  a  black  and  silver pattern is a red and gold tripartite panel. The crucifix in the sanctuary is by Mark Cazalet. The original stone reredos with flanking carved timber panelling survives, hidden behind the new William Drake organ at the east end.

Diocese: Brentwood

Architect: George W. Martyn

Original Date: 1930

Conservation Area: No

Modifications: 1939, 1955

Listed Grade: Grade II