Building » Chingford – Our Lady of Grace and St Teresa of Avila

Chingford – Our Lady of Grace and St Teresa of Avila

Kings Road, Chingford, London E4

A late church in the Arts & Crafts tradition, built in 1931 with additions of 1939 and 1955-56. It was a thank-offering by the convert George W. Martyn who designed and built the church and presbytery. The timber- framed south porch was carved by Donald Potter, a pupil of Eric Gill. The overall quality of materials and decoration is high. 

In 1914 a Mass Centre was established by priests from St George’s, Walthamstow, and Mass was initially said in various pubs and the Royal Forest Hotel. The first church, a small hall, was opened in December 1919. (The official opening took place in November 1920.) In November 1923 the first resident priest arrived and the parish was erected in October 1924. The foundation stone for the present church was laid by Bishop Doubleday on 4 October 1930. The nave and a temporary sanctuary were opened by the Bishop on 7 June 1931. (The bricks were apparently from the foundations from the railway bridge across Kings Road which was then being demolished.) The completed church (with transepts and sanctuary) was opened on 1 December 1939 and consecrated by Bishop Beck on 13 May 1949. The cost of the church was £5,500, most of which came from donors including Edward Eyre. The builder and architect for church and presbytery was George W. Martyn of Chingford. Martyn designed and built the church at cost of labour and materials, i.e. without profit, as a thank offering for his reception as a Catholic. The tower was added in 1955-56.

The organ was built in 2000 by William Drake of Buckfastleigh. In 2002, the Dublin firm  of  Richard  Hurley  &  Associates  undertook  a  sympathetic reordering,  which introduced new stone furnishings by Angela Godfrey. The contractors were Messrs Frederick J. French.


The building is fully described in the list description (below), which however predates the 2002 reordering. It omits the completion dates for the various phases. Also, the tower is more correctly at the southwest and the window in the Sacred Heart chapel is not a cinquefoil but a multifoil with eight lobes.   The concluding sentence of the list entry is also somewhat surprising; Gothic Revival Catholic churches are plentiful, albeit less common in the interwar years.

The list description has little detail on the major furnishings:

  • The east rose window by Veronica Whall, 1939
  • The north window in the Lady Chapel, also by Whall, 1939
  • The carved Stations of the Cross by Kathleen Nicholas
  • The involvement of Donald Potter of Chingford (1902-2004), a pupil of Eric Gill, who carved the south porch decoration, also merits inclusion.

The 2002 reordering introduced some new paving in the sanctuary, as well as furnishings of stone carved with restrained ornament by Angela Godfrey, including the altar, lectern, the hexagonal font (in the north aisle) and the tabernacle stand (in the  north  transept  chapel).  Behind  the  metal  tabernacle  with  a  black  and  silver pattern is a red and gold tripartite panel. The crucifix in the sanctuary is by Mark Cazalet. The original stone reredos with flanking carved timber panelling survives, hidden behind the new William Drake organ at the east end.

List description


Roman Catholic church. Foundation stone laid 4 October 1930. GW Martyn architect. Brown brick in Sussex bond with Ketton stone dressings, oak timber frame and tiled roof. Gothic Revival style. PLAN: west tower, 5 bay nave with aisles, north and south transept chapels and south porch. EXTERIOR: west tower is of 2 stages and has crenellated parapet. Double cinquefoil-headed windows with hood mouldings and offset buttresses. Nave west front has large traceried window and central arched door case flanked by sidelights. Triple cinquefoil-headed light windows to nave flanked by buttresses and triangular rooflights. Large oak framed south porch with patterned curved braces and carved bargeboards. No change in roof pitch to chancel which has gabled transept chapels with large arched windows of triple ogees and rose window to east end. INTERIOR: Ketton stone arcade on octagonal columns. Unusual roof of Austrian oak is an amalgamation of arched braces and crown post on elaborately carved corbels. West choir gallery has limed and gilded linenfold panelling and staircase with finely carved animals to newel posts and gallery front. Flooring of unglazed ceramic tiles to nave but green and white marble to chancel and chapels. The Lady Chapel has a contemporary stained glass window and an altar with a painted reredos. The Sacred Heart Chapel has a moulded stone pedestal for the figure of Christ and a Crown of Thorns stained glass cinquefoil window. The High Altar has an imposing stone reredos and elaborate limed and gilded oak panelling. This church has unusually fine materials and carving for the period and the choice of Gothic Revival style is most unusual for a Roman Catholic church.

Listing NGR: TQ3863594277

Heritage Details

Architect: George W. Martyn

Original Date: 1930

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II