Building » Barking – St Mary and St Ethelburga

Barking – St Mary and St Ethelburga

Linton Road, Barking, Essex IG11

An unassuming modern building, part of a group with the nineteenth century presbytery and former school, which makes little external show but provides a generous and adaptable internal worship space. The building incorporates some features from the 1869 church by E. W. Pugin previously on the site.

In the 1850s Barking was a major fishing port. With the arrival of the railway in 1854 the population began to rise steadily, despite the removal of the fishing fleet to Gorleston and Great Yarmouth in 1865. The 12th Lord Petre gave a site near the railway station (part of the present site) and a small schoolroom/chapel was built in 1857. Designs for a permanent church were obtained from E. W. Pugin in 1865 and the new building – a single brick block with a steeply-gabled roof and a tall fleche – was opened in 1869. As with Pugin’s church at Harwich (qv), Countess Helen Tasker was a benefactor. The church had a large wooden spired bellcote towards the west end, and an internal arcade of cast iron pillars. A new presbytery was built alongside the church in 1873. The prime mover in these works was Fr James Gilligan, who died in 1887 and whose Gothic memorial tablet is in the porch of the present church.

In 1889 the original school/chapel was replaced with a larger two-storey brick school designed by a Mr Dawson of Barking. Post-war plans to remove the church and presbytery to a new site in Ripple Road had foundered by the mid-1970s and a new church was built to the designs of John Newton of Burles & Newton on an extension to the original site. Building was undertaken in two phases, with the main part of the new church constructed first alongside the old church which was then demolished (1979) and the new building extended on its site. Plans for a new hall on the site never materialised.


The church is a low modern building with walls of buff-coloured brick with varied window openings and low-pitched roofs with coverings of dark-coloured artificial slate. From the rear courtyard, with its free-standing metal belfry, it is apparent that the main church is covered by a single main roof with the ridge running north-south, with a much lower pitched roof spanning across the extension.

The interior is a single rectangular space with a linoleum-covered floor and bare brick walls. The sanctuary is placed in the middle of the long axis and is marked by a stone dais with a plastered recess behind it. The main worship area has a pitched timber- boarded ceiling with exposed laminated timber beams, an upstand with side-lighting above the sanctuary and a narrow strip clerestory opposite. In one end wall is a large round window containing glass from the western rose window of the earlier Pugin church on the site. Against the other end wall is the organ and there is also a small side chapel with modern stained glass. The whole of the long wall opposite the sanctuary opens into the ‘extension’, an additional top-lit congregational space which also contains a timber entrance lobby.

The fittings include several stained glass windows brought from the earlier church; as well as the rose window, these include the font (now used as a holy water stoup) and various memorials, including that to Fr Gilligan, which is now in the outer entrance lobby.

Heritage Details

Architect: Burles & Newton

Original Date: 1979

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed