Building » Bromley – St Joseph

Bromley – St Joseph

Plaistow Lane, Bromley, London BR1

A neo-Romanesque brick church of 1912 by Edward Goldie. The church is locally listed and its high nave and west front are of some townscape value.

In December 1886 Mgr Goddard, priest at Chislehurst, established the mission in Bromley. In December that year, the Trinitarian sisters set up a convent at Willowbank, London Road, with plans to open a parish school. Mgr Goddard said the first  Mass  on  Christmas  Day  1886. Two  years  later  the  Holy  Trinity  Convent purchased  the Freelands estate at Plaistow,  for a convent  and school. A  convent chapel was built in 1889, and was also used by parishioners. That year the first resident priest arrived, Fr John O’Meara.

In January 1892, work started on the mission’s own temporary chapel, constructed in corrugate iron on land given by the Trinitarians, close to the current site. The chapel cost £460. It was opened by the Bishop of Southwark on 13 March 1892. By then a presbytery had already been acquired.

In 1909 the then parish  priest,  Fr  Walter  Cooksey,  started the fundraising  for  a permanent church and a school building. The small school which now forms the nucleus of the parish primary school was opened in November 1909. The site and the funds for the school were provided by the Trinitarians. By May 1911 plans for the new church had been prepared Edward Goldie. The foundation stone was laid on 8 July 1912 by the  Bishop  of Southwark;  the builders  were John  Marsland  &  Son.  The church was completed five months later and was opened on 13 December 1912 by Bishop Amigo. (The old temporary church was demolished.) Two years later, on 28 April 1914, the church was consecrated.

Among the furnishings are several statues  carved  by a Tyrolean sculptor  for  the suppliers, the Art & Book Co, including those flanking the sanctuary arch. The communion rails (now removed) came from an old church in Lincoln which was to be demolished. In 1919, a pulpit was erected as a memorial to the parishioners who died in the First World War (since removed).

In 1926 several stained glass windows by Hardman were installed. The following year stained glass windows were added in the Lady Chapel, and a large crucifix suspended from the sanctuary arch. Also in the interwar years, a new font and new confessionals were provided and further stained glass windows inserted. In 1948 a new stained glass window was installed in the south aisle, to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of the mission. In 1964, the parishioners voted in favour of replacing the church’s cane chairs with timber benches. In 1971, the current presbytery at 1 Orchard Road was acquired, and a stained glass window in memory of Mother Aloys installed in the south chapel. In 1974-75 the old presbytery was converted and extended for use as a church hall by the architect Ralph Lovegrove. The original high altar, tabernacle, pulpit and communion rails were removed in the 1980s

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

The church was built in 1912 to designs by Edward Goldie. It is built in yellow brick laid in English bond, with stone dressings and tile courses around window arches and openings. The gable is hung with clay tiles. The roof is covered in the same tiles.

The plan is of an apsed nave, with lean-to aisles. There is a transept arm at the north side with the Lady Chapel in its apse. The south aisle also terminates in an apse, which houses the Sacred Heart chapel. The north transept has a bellcote on its west gable.

The central part of the west front has a circular window below the gable surmounted by a cross. Below are two round-headed windows flanking a canopied niche with a statue of St Joseph. The gabled central porch has two small windows on either side. The west end of the north aisle has a quadrant stair turret, while the west front of the south aisle has a circular window above a doorway.

The modern west narthex extends across the width of the interior. The north window in the narthex has a stained glass window of the Good Shepherd, dedicated to the memory  of  Eileen  Finn.  Above  the  narthex  is  an  organ  loft  supported  on  two octagonal and two circular columns. The nave of five bays has a king-post roof. Each bay has one round-headed clerestory window. The form of the arcade supports alternates  between  columns  with  capitals,  and  rectangular  pillars  with  attached shafts. The columns themselves alternate between circular and octagonal plans.

The north aisle has two stained glass windows of 1926 by Hardman; both are memorials to Dame Lilian Amelia Grindle (d. 1924). They depict the Annunciation and  the  Betrothal  of  the  Virgin.  The  Stations  of  the  Cross  are  large,  unframed carvings. In the third bay from the west is a confessional with a panelled entrance of three doors with thin timber columns. Nearby is a statue of St Anthony set against a nave pillar. The north transept has a circular west window, and two windows to the north: Our Lady of Walsingham (in memory of Sir Edward Campbell, Bt, JP, MP for Bromley 1930-1945), and St Agnes (in memory of the Almond family). Between them hangs an oil painting of the Assumption. The Lady Chapel has a simple reredos with a statue of the Virgin in a niche, above a small altar with a tabernacle. The two windows depict Our Lady of Lourdes and St Bernadette (1927, Hardman).

A circular window in the sanctuary arch depicts the dove of the Holy Spirit. On either side of the arch are over-lifesize statues of the Virgin and St Joseph on arcaded pedestals (by a Tyrolean sculptor, supplied by the Art & Book Co.). A large timber crucifix hangs suspended from the arch. The sanctuary furniture is all modern and of timber. Of the nine windows in the apse, the central five have stained glass by Hardman. They depict Melchizedech (1926), Christ with chalice and bread (1926), the Risen Christ, the Marriage of Cana (1933) and Moses with the Manna (1930).

At the southeast is the Sacred Heart chapel, with a statue of the Sacred Heart and wrought iron gates with the instruments of the Passion. The Sacred Heart window is by Hardman (1930); another window depicts the Trinity with two saints (in memory of Rev. Mother Aloys CSsT (1897-1964), given by her pupils). Beside the Chapel is the entrance to the sacristy, contained within the 1975 parish centre extension.

The south aisle windows include: the Holy Family (1934, Hardman, in memory of Gilbert Grindle); the Presentation in the Temple (c.1935, attributed to Hardman, in memory of Soeur St Joseph Delpal); and Christ among the Doctors (1948, presented by staff and pupils of Holy Trinity Convent). At the west end of the south aisle is a door to the toilets in the parish centre.

Heritage Details

Architect: Edward Goldie

Original Date: 1912

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed