Abbey Grove, Abbey Wood, London SE2
A small and plain neo-Romanesque church of the early 20th century, one of many built in the Diocese under the patronage of Miss Frances Ellis, and one of several similar designs by the Rev. Benedict Williamson. The interior has been much altered.
The mission at Abbey Wood was founded from Plumstead. In 1907, a site was acquired with the help of Miss Frances Ellis, who also paid for the church building and the presbytery. A year later, church and presbytery were nearly complete. Both were designed by Benedict Williamson, architect and at that time studying for the priesthood. The design is very similar to Williamson’s St Elphege, Wallington and St Swithin, Bromley Common (qv). The church was opened on 1 August 1909 and dedicated to St Benet, a shortening of Benedict. In 1939 the mission was canonically erected as a parish.
In 1962 restoration by Bernard F. Moss & Partners included new Stations of the Cross and the introduction of a panelled ceiling. In the late 1980s, the sanctuary was reordered. The interior has recently been refurbished.
The church is facing north; however, this description will use the conventional liturgical orientation.
The church was built between 1908 and 1909, to designs by Rev. Benedict Williamson. (Please note that the Buildings of England volume gives a wrong architect.) It is built using stock brick, laid in English bond, with clay roof tiles. In plan, it is a rectangular box with a lower sanctuary, both with pitched roofs. A flat- roofed sacristy is attached to the northeast.
The west elevation has a recessed round-arched doorway, whose imposts continue as a string course across the facade. Above are three round-headed windows, separated by two stylised columns.
The west doors open directly into the four-bay nave with a flat panelled ceiling. The floor is covered in large rustic brick tiles, laid in herringbone pattern. The three west windows are glazed with modern coloured glass in an abstract pattern of swirling blues and reds. The north wall has a door at the west, leading into the presbytery, and another to the sacristy at the east, with one round-arched window above. The south wall has four windows. The timber benches are modern. The carved and unframed Stations date from the 1962 restoration
In the southeast corner of the nave stands a statue of the church’s patron saint, St Benet. On either side of the sanctuary arch are statues of St Joseph (left), and the Madonna and Child (right). The one-bay sanctuary is lit only by two lateral windows. A large crucifix hangs in a shallow niche above a timber screen. To the left is the tabernacle, to the right a statue of the Sacred Heart. The timber sanctuary furniture is modern.
Architect: Benedict Williamson
Original Date: 1908
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed