Manor Park - St Nicholas

Gladding Road, Manor Road, London E12

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A small, picturesquely-composed Gothic church of the late 1860s built originally as the chapel of a Catholic Industrial School to the designs of Gilbert Blount. Despite alterations, much of the original character remains.

The church originated as the chapel of St Nicholas Industrial School, which was established by Archbishop Manning in 1868.   The dedication to St Nicholas was chosen by Manning in honour of his predecessor, Cardinal Nicholas Wiseman, as well as  on  account  of  St  Nicholas  being  the  patron  saint  of  children. The  principal building of the school was the former Manor House, a building of c1810 on an earlier site, to which the chapel is attached. From 1918 the chapel also served as the parish church of Manor Park.  The School closed in 1922 and in 1925 the whole of the school site apart from the chapel and the presbytery was bought by the London Co-operative Society as their principal depot. Most of the former school buildings were demolished but the Manor House was retained. A second church, St Stephen (qv), was erected in Church Road in 1924 and a new presbytery in 1934, when St Stephen’s became the principal parish church. The Gladding Road building was damaged by enemy action in the Second World War, and all the original stained glass was lost. In 1988 the Sisters of the Sacred Heart took up residence in the former presbytery.  The Co-op sold the Manor House in 1987 and in 1988 it was converted into flats. Other parts of the site have been developed for housing.

The church is in the Gothic style. The walls are of grey brick with black brick banding and stone dressings; the roofs are covered in Welsh slate. The building comprises an apsed aisleless nave over a hall, with a small west porch and a two storey building of domestic appearance on the south side containing service rooms below and sacristies above. The western part of the south side abuts the Manor House at ground floor level. Church and southern extension make a picturesque group when viewed from the street. The west porch is reached by modern steps. Above the porch in the steep west gable is a large rose window with plate tracery.   The north side has two-light mullion and transom windows to the ground floor hall and single lancets to the church  above.  The  apse  has  paired  lancets.  The  south  extension  has  three-light mullion  and  transom  windows  on  the  ground  floor  and  three-light  mullioned windows above.

The ground floor hall interior is functional, with thin iron columns supporting the principal ceiling beams. The church interior is plastered and painted with an open timber roof with collars and curved braces to the principal trusses. In the apse the roof is boarded and the roof-ribs are brought down onto the columns of a wall- arcade. There is a west organ gallery on thin iron columns with a delicate iron balustrade, with its original organ by Alfred Monk (restored in 1968). The sanctuary walls were originally richly stencilled as a setting for an elaborate altar and reredos, with altar rails like the gallery rails but the decoration has been painted out and all the original fittings have been removed and replaced by a modern altar on a modern timber dais. The windows are mostly clear-glazed but the eastern windows have applied transparencies. Some of the original benches with their chamfered and shouldered ends remain.

Diocese: Brentwood

Architect: G. R. Blount

Original Date: 1869

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II