East Ham - St Michael

Tilbury Road, East Ham, London E6

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A large portal-frame church of the 1950s by John Newton, with some jazzy detailing.

The first parish church was a dual purpose church/hall building erected in 1925 and served from St Mary and St Ethelburga, Barking. This was demolished in 2003. The present church, with the presbytery and a small parish room was built from designs by John Newton of Burles & Newton, to cater for an increasing congregation (it was intended to seat 500). It opened on 29 September 1959.

St Michael’s is a large modern church, constructed with a steel portal frame covered by a vast pitched roof with a continuous roofline. On plan the church comprises a large unaisled nave with a shallow sanctuary and a tall thin northeast bell tower whose base forms the link between the church and the presbytery. The walls of the church are faced with buff-coloured brick, while the roof is covered with tiles, enlivened by patterning. The west gable wall has a tall three-light window in the upper part. The south side fronting Arthur Road has a gable over the southwest doorway and four lower gables eastwards over the side windows of the nave.  In the roof above is a continuous zig-zag of eight small gables over dormer windows. The north  elevation  is  similar.  The  sanctuary  is  shown  externally  as  tall  three-light windows on each side.  The brick east gable which rises sheer from Tilbury Road is blind with a cross in diaper work.

Inside the church there is a western vestibule leading to the former baptistery which has windows with panels of dalle-de-verre glass. Above the vestibule is the organ gallery. In the main space the steel principal roof trusses and the timber purlins are exposed but the ceiling was lowered in 1982, concealing the dormer windows. The floors are covered in carpet, the walls are plastered and the ceiling is covered with acoustic tiles.  The sanctuary is raised on three steps and the sanctuary side windows have coloured glass. All the other windows are clear-glazed. The sanctuary has evidently been re-ordered, perhaps in 1982, and the altar rails and a canopy over the altar have been removed.

Diocese: Brentwood

Architect: A. J. Newton of Burles & Newton

Original Date: 1958

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed