South Ockendon - The Holy Cross

Easington Way, South Ockendon, Essex RM15

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A well-designed post-war church of traditional form by H. Bingham Towner, an established architect of Catholic churches.   The statue of Christ over the west door and the foundation stone are by Joseph Cribb, a pupil of Eric Gill’s. The re-ordering of the sanctuary has deprived the interior of its original visual focus but otherwise the building is little- altered.

Much  of  the  residential  development  at  South  Ockendon  is  what  was  originally known as the LCC Aveley Estate, built after the Second World War. A Mass centre was established in 1948 and the first resident priest (Fr Johnson) arrived in 1952.  A dual purpose hall/church was built in 1953 from designs by D. Plaskett Marshall and a presbytery by the same architect in 1955. Work on the present church started in 1960, and the church was opened by Bishop Wall on 20 June 1961. The architect was Henry Bingham Towner of Uckfield, and the builders Messrs Hammond & Miles of Ilford. The church was designed to seat 400, and cost £37,000.

Holy Trinity Church is a building of traditional form with some loosely medievalising detailing. The walls are of red brick, with door and window details in artificial stone and roof coverings of concrete tiles. The plan comprises a substantial west tower, square on plan with a pyramidal roof, nave and sanctuary under a continuous pitched roof and broad flat-roofed aisles. The tower has a west door set under a wide round- headed brick arch with a carved figure of Christ above carved by Joseph Cribb of Burgess Hill, who also carved the lettering in the foundation stone.  The side walls of the tower have three-light mullioned windows to the second stage with louvred openings to the ringing chamber above. East of the tower the nave and sanctuary has a continuous clerestory of six three-light mullioned windows.  On the south side the aisle is four bays long with similar windows, and a sacristy addition is attached to the sanctuary. On the north side the aisle is of six bays. The east end wall is blind.

Internally, the bottom stage of the tower serves as a vestibule with a gallery over. The nave arcades are of five bays, with low pointed arches. The nave ceiling is pitched and boarded, the aisle ceilings flat.  The walls throughout are plastered and painted and the leaded windows are clear glazed. The sanctuary in the east bay has a rectangular opening on each side; on the north is a side chapel. Originally the sanctuary was enclosed by communion rails with turned balusters and had a canopy over the high altar, but these have been removed and the sanctuary step brought forward with a nave altar.

Diocese: Brentwood

Architect: H. Bingham Towner

Original Date: 1960

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed