Building » Blackfen – Our Lady of the Rosary

Blackfen – Our Lady of the Rosary

Burnt Oak Lane, Blackfen, Sidcup, London DA15

A plain tall church of 1936-7, extended in the 1960s. The Lady altar consists of salvaged marble parts from the former high altar at Sidcup.

Although Blackfen was originally part of the parish of Sidcup, it was actually served from Welling. The site was purchased for £250; building work started in 1936 and was finished in 1937. The church was formally opened on 8 September 1937 by Bishop Amigo. The architect was Edward John Walters, of F. A. Walters & Son, who had built St Stephen’s, Welling, in 1935. Like the church at Welling, Our Lady of the Rosary is a cheap and partly prefabricated structure with pebbledashed elevations and a steel roof structure. Although larger than the church at Welling, Our Lady’s was cheaper, costing only £2,500. Originally it was a tall, cruciform building with a porch at the northwest and a projecting polygonal baptistery at the west. The sanctuary was flanked by a sacristy, kitchen, toilets and heating chamber at the northeast, and a chapel and confessional at the southeast. Walters had prepared two alternative – Classical and Gothic – designs for the high altar, of which the plain Gothic design appears to have been chosen.

In 1945 Blackfen became a separate parish with Fr Adolf Koch as its first parish priest. The long-planned school opened the same year, at a separate site in Holbeach Gardens, Blackfen. By 1949 a small hall had been built. The same year, the old presbytery was sold to finance the new one, designed by Walters & Kerr Bate, the successor practice of E. J. Walters. (The north elevation of the presbytery was a temporary brick wall, ‘toothed for future additions’, which is still in place today.) In the 1960s several additions were made, probably also by Walters & Kerr Bate, including two side aisles, a narthex (replacing the baptistery), and a new northwest porch. The small hall was possibly rebuilt or enlarged.

When the marble high altar (by Mr Palla, Italy, 1940s) at Sidcup was dismantled, parts were acquired by Blackfen parish where they form the Lady altar. (The architects Walters & Kerr Bate were responsible for the reordering at Sidcup in c.1970.) The church was consecrated on 2 October 1986. The large hall was probably added in the 1990s.


The church is facing northeast; however, this description will use the conventional liturgical orientation.

The church was built in 1936-7, to designs by E. J. Walters. The original church was cruciform with a tall, unaisled nave with some Gothic detailing. In the 1960s, side aisles and a narthex were added by Walters & Kerr Bate, as well as a corridor linking the presbytery, the small hall at the northeast and the church. The church is built of brick, with pebbledash elevations to the 1930s nave, and a steel roof structure. The plan is longitudinal, of nave and side aisles, with a pitched nave roof which is hipped over the east end. The sanctuary is flanked by the Lady Chapel and the sacristy to the north, and the organ chamber to the south. The side aisles have shallow pitched roofs to each bay, perpendicular to the nave roof. The church is accessed by the northwest porch.

The north elevation is the main facade, as the church is tightly bordered by gardens on the other three sides.  The northwest porch is of  brick in stretcher bond  and timber, with brick and timber piers supporting the gabled canopy. The north aisle has four bays, each with a shallow gable and frosted glass metal framed windows, framed by brick piers. A half bay with a full-height window abuts the porch. The line of gables is continued by three bays at right angles in front of the link corridor and small hall.

The porch leads into a narthex at the west with frosted glass metal framed windows, and a statue of St Theresa. In the southwest corner is a glazed-in childrens’ chapel or ‘cry room’ with a statue of St Anne with the Virgin. The narthex is open to the nave, with statues of St Anthony and St Patrick in front of pillars supporting the nave’s west wall which has a three-light traceried window. The nave has five bays, without clerestory windows but dormers on either side in the easternmost bay. The nave roof is an exposed steel scissorbeam structure, which originally might have been hidden by panelling. The bays are marked by simple square-plan pillars between nave and aisles. The Stations of the Cross are rectangular casts with gilded details.

The brick piers between the aisle windows are exposed. At the west end of the north aisle is the repository. At the east of the aisle is the Lady Chapel with a marble altar from reused parts of Sidcup’s former high altar, and a timber statue of the Virgin. Just to the north of the Chapel is the door to the sacristy, a large carved statue of St Joseph with the Child, and the timber font. The sanctuary is divided from the nave by a large pointed arch. The sanctuary walls and ceiling are all panelled with the pattern picked out in blue. It is lit by two side windows  on  either  side.  There  is  mesh  to  the organ  chamber  in  the south.  The tabernacle stand and a crucifix are set against a full-height timber panel. The altar rails, ambo and altar are also of timber. The space to the south accommodates the organ, hidden behind a screen, in front of which stands the manual. At the east end of the south aisle is a reconciliation room. Just to the west of it stands a timber altar with a carved panel of the Last Supper, with a large Sacred Heart statue. The westernmost bay on the south side has clear glass to the windows and a door.

Heritage Details

Architect: E. J. Walters

Original Date: 1936

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed