Dagenham - St Peter

Goresbrook Road, Dagenham, Essex RM9

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A substantial red brick church of the 1930s by W. C. Mangan in his favoured Italian Lombard style, with a broad basilican interior restored in 2005.

The church is situated at the southern edge of the enormous LCC Becontree Estate, which was developed in the 1920s and is close to Ford’s equally enormous Dagenham motor car plant, on which work began in 1929. The first resident priest was appointed and a temporary church built in 1926, by the La Salette Missionaries, a missionary congregation originally founded in the French Alps. The parish was erected in February 1928. A school (now halls) was built in 1935 from designs by T.H.B. Scott. Scott was unsuccessful in the competition to design the permanent church, which job went to W.C. Mangan, whose Holy Family at Dagenham (q.v.) had been completed in 1934. The foundation stone for this was laid on 31 January 1937 and the church was opened by Bishop Doubleday on 5 December in the same year. At the time of the opening it seated 700. A presbytery was built at the same time, from Mangan’s designs.

In 1985 the church was consecrated, after being re-ordered and re-oriented (by 90 degrees) with a central worship space. In 2004 the coffered ceiling collapsed and in 2005 the church was repaired and re-ordered a second time, returning to its original internal arrangement.

The church is designed in Mangan’s favoured Lombard Romanesque style and has a basilican plan with a nave and narrow passage aisles, low transeptal projections at the west end and an apsidal-ended sanctuary. The walls are faced with red brick and the roofs are covered in Roman tiles. The west elevation has brick side pilasters with slightly jazzy brick ornament, a handsome round-headed Renaissance doorway under a brick corbel table and a wheel window above with another corbel table in the gable. To either side are single-storey projections, that on the south containing a side entry, that on the north the former baptistery (an addition of the 1960s, according to Fr Foster’s notes). The nave is of six bays east of the western bay, with paired round- headed windows in the clerestory and single round-headed windows in the aisles, where the bays are marked by brick pilaster strips. The short sanctuary is lower than the nave with one triple window each side and a canted apsidal east end. On the north side is a lower Lady Chapel, also with an apsidal end.

The interior is broad and light, the walls plastered and painted, the floor is parquet. In the west bay of the nave is a gallery with a vestibule beneath. Eastward of the gallery are six-bay arcades with semi-circular arches on stone columns with cast stone Corinthian capitals. Outside the arcades are narrow passage-aisles. The frieze above the nave arcades is inscribed with texts. Above the clerestory are a heavy modillion cornice and a flat coffered ceiling (reconstructed in 2005 after collapse). The deep semi-circular sanctuary arch is also coffered but the sanctuary apse is plain. The eastern arch of the north arcade which leads into the side chapel shrine of Our Lady of Salette is now glazed. The chapel itself has an apse with mosaic decoration. The high altar is raised on parquet steps under a handsome classical baldacchino. A modern nave altar is set on a modern parquet platform. The benches appear to be original.

Diocese: Brentwood

Architect: Wilfrid Clarence Mangan

Original Date: 1937

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed