Southend-on-Sea - The Sacred Heart

Southchurch Road, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1

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A relatively modest brick Gothic building of 1910 by the little-known architect B. R. Parkes. The church forms a good local group with the contemporary presbytery and parish hall. An intended northwest tower was never completed and the interior of the church has been altered.

The freehold site was given in 1909 by Mr Alfred Tolhurst of Northfleet in Kent, and a temporary church built (architects Burles & Harris). The foundation stone for the permanent church (designed by the local architect Bertram R. Parkes) was laid on 25 August 1909 and the church was opened by Archbishop Bourne on 8 February 1910. The cost was £2,000. A presbytery and parish hall were built at about the same time, from designs by Burles & Harris. The church was consecrated on 13 September 1955.

 The church of the Sacred Heart is designed in a simplified Gothic style which owes something to both English Norman architecture and French thirteenth-century Gothic. The walls are face with red brick laid in English bond and the roofs are covered in plain tiles. On plan, the building comprises a nave with a west porch, southwest  apsidal-ended  baptistery, north and south aisles  and an apsidal-ended sanctuary with a sacristy on the north side. It is a clear that a northwest tower was intended but never built.

 The west gable wall is flanked by chamfered buttresses which may originally have carried pinnacles. In the upper part of the wall is a stepped three-light window. Beneath are five round-headed windows, now largely obscured by the single-storey brick porch which is clearly a later addition. The apsidal-ended southwest baptistery has a brick corbel table and conical roof. On the north side where the tower was intended is a porch set in from the west front, under a lean-to roof. East of the tower and baptistery, the nave is of three aisled bays divided by pilaster strips, with stone corbel tables to both nave and aisles. The clerestory has three pairs of round-headed windows and the north aisle has a canted central bay flanked by pairs of similar windows. The apsidal sanctuary has a pair of round-headed windows high in each side wall and to further pairs in the curving end.

 Internally the church has a western organ gallery, now glazed beneath to form a vestibule. The gallery is supported on octagonal columns with four-centred arches. The nave and aisle walls are plastered and painted. The nave arcades are of three bays of brick round-headed arches on octagonal columns with scalloped capitals. Above the nave is an open timber roof with arch braces to the collars brought down onto wall posts. The aisles have lean-to roofs with purlins, struts and collars beneath the boarded ceiling. None of the windows have any internal moulding and most are clear glazed with quarries. The tall chancel arch is semicircular and rests on octagonal responds with scalloped capitals. The sanctuary is apsidal with an open timber roof. The windows set high in the wall have stained glass. The sanctuary has clearly been re-ordered. The triple-arched stone reredos on the east wall is doubtless original but the nave altar and other fittings appear to be modern.

Diocese: Brentwood

Architect: B. R. Parkes

Original Date: 1909

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed