Building » Barkingside – St Augustine of Canterbury

Barkingside – St Augustine of Canterbury

Cranbrook Road North, Barkingside, Ilford, London IG6

A large church in the Early Christian style built in the early 1950s. The design is very similar to one used by the same architect at Hainault (qv). A 1979-80 reordering created a weekday chapel in the former chancel. The predecessor church of 1928 survives alongside as the school hall.

The first church (now the school hall) was built in 1928 by Thomas Henry Birchall Scott, surveyor to the dioceses of Westminster and Brentwood. This Mass centre was initially served from St Peter and St Paul, Ilford. The first resident priest arrived in 1940 and in 1951 Barkingside was erected as a parish. The present church was designed  by  David  Rodney  Burles  of  Westcliffe-on-Sea,  who  used  a  very  similar design for the contemporary, but smaller, church of the Assumption at Hainault (qv) of 1952-3. The builders were Messrs J. Leary & Sons of Stratford. The foundation stone was laid on 25 October 1953; the church was first used in December 1954 and was officially opened by Bishop Beck on 6 March 1955.

In 1979-80 Austin Winkley of Williams & Winkley undertook a £43,000 reordering scheme, executed by the builders Messrs Duncan & Duncan of Hornchurch. A weekday chapel was created within the original chancel and new confessionals were inserted. New Portland stone furnishings were installed. The church was consecrated by Bishop Casey on 29 April 1980. A few years ago, a new stone chair was installed and in 2007 a mosaic over the west door, the latter commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of Pope John Paul’s visit to Britain.


The style of the church is plain Early Christian. It is built in plum-coloured stock brick laid in English bond, with a pantiled roof and tiled details in the elevations. The plan is longitudinal, comprising an aisled nave, with a slim bell tower at the northwest and a sacristy with a small meeting room at the east. The nave roof is pitched, while the roofs of the aisles and the sacristy are flat.

The west front of the nave projects forward of the end walls of the aisles and is dominated by a large circular window. Below is an arched doorway, flanked by pairs of small arched windows. The tympanum of the door is filled with a Pantocrator mosaic commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II (2007, Tessa Hunkin of the Mosaic Workshop) and the inscription ‘haec domus dei est et porta coeli’. The west faces of the aisles also have arched doors with pairs of small windows above them. The north aisle has an additional pair of windows beside the door.

The north elevation is more austere, with five arched aisle windows and six shorter arched clerestory windows. The window forms of the other elements distinguish their functions: The windows of the sacristy and the meeting room are straight-headed, as single windows or in groups of three or four. The entrance to the heating chamber, whose chimney at the northeast balances the bell tower, has a row of four segmentally-headed openings. Like the west front, the east gable has a large circular window.

The nave arcade has plain arches supported on plain pillars with simplified capitals and pedestals, as well as three Tuscan stone columns. The nave roof is panelled with a decorative grid; the aisle roofs only have exposed transverse beams. The interior used to be a single-volume space, without any separation between chancel and nave. The space is six bays long, as defined by the clerestory windows, with an additional windowless bay at the west occupied by the organ gallery. In 1980 a weekday chapel was inserted at the easternmost bay. Of lower height than the east window and the arcade arches, it is lit by a glazed lantern. Inside the chapel, niches on either side of a small Risen Christ statue hold small carved statues of Our Lady with the Christ child and St Joseph. On the north wall is the foundation stone, and above the door to the Blessed Sacrament chapel is a small stained glass roundel of the Agnus Dei.

The bell is rung via a bell rope on the organ gallery. On the front of the gallery are small statues of St Joseph and St Anthony, flanked by much larger statues of St Augustine of Canterbury and St Patrick. The latter stand on large baroque-style timber pedestals carved with putti heads, swags, egg-and-dart and gadrooning. They are also carved with the monograms of St Joseph and St Mary, and might originally have been placed in side chapels, possibly in the 1928 church. There are two pairs of arched windows from the narthex into the nave.

At the southwest and northwest corners are the gallery stair and repository, respectively. Near the southwest and northwest are the confessionals (inserted in 1979-80), simple structures with a rounded west corner each. Beside the north confessional stands a statue of the Sacred Heart. At the northeast is the Lady Chapel with a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes and an arched east window. At the southeast is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, containing a small stone altar with the tabernacle between two thin blind arches and an arched east window. The sanctuary has modern Portland stone furnishings of 1979-80 and the stone chair in a matching style which was added in c.2004. Above it hangs a large timber crucifix. The Stations are conventional, unframed timber reliefs.

Heritage Details

Architect: David Rodney Burles

Original Date: 1953

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed