Red Hill, Chislehurst, London BR7
A former cinema of the 1930s, the building was converted in 1961 for use as a church. It retains the original fold-down cinema seats. The church is located in a conservation area.
The mission was founded by Fr T. P. O’Beirne, the parish priest of St Mary’s, Chislehurst, in the 1950s. Initially, Mass was said at the British Legion Hall in Albany Road. A suitable building was eventually found in a small cinema which was acquired with the help of H. A. Bulley, a builder and neighbour of the cinema, who negotiated the sale. In early 1961, work began to convert it into a church, inserting windows and opening the west gallery. The former ticket office became the sacristy. The church was opened and dedicated on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March 1961. Presumably the hall was added shortly afterwards. In 1963 Chislehurst West became an independent parish and Mr Bulley’s house was bought for use as a presbytery.
The church has recently been rewired and redecorated. The canopy over the tabernacle was removed and the tabernacle moved from the centre of the east wall slightly to the south. New radiators and a new boiler were also installed.
The church is facing northeast; however, this description uses the conventional, liturgical orientation.
The church was built as a small cinema in c.1931. In 1961, it was converted to a church, which included the insertion of windows. The elevations are rendered and painted white, with the west facade pebbledashed. The plan is rectangular, with a boiler house extension at the northeast corner. The roof is pitched, with a flat roof at the west end between two gabled parapet walls. The west facade has two storeys, with modern timber-frame windows in the upper storey and modern uPVC windows in the lower storey. The central section has five thin first-floor windows below a gable. On the ground floor is the doorway with the papal coat of arms on the canopy. The flanking sections of the facade have both three windows each on the ground and first floors.
Internally, the west end houses a narthex below a gallery, with the stairs to the north and the sacristy with a toilet to the south. The nave has three windows on each side. Of originally four doorways at each corner, three have been blocked and the northeast door leads to the boiler house. The floor is sloping and the original fold-down cinema seats are still in situ, some with cast-iron side panels. The windows on the north side depict (from the west): the IHS monogram, a cross, the ChiRho monogram. The windows on the south feature (from the west): Alpha and Omega, a cross and the Ichthys symbol. At the northwest is a confessional, with a small Calvary group above. On the cill of the westernmost window on the north side stands a large statue of St Patrick. On the cill of the matching window opposite stands a large statue of the Sacred Heart. The sanctuary has a timber altar. A crucifix hangs on the wall behind. On the left is a statue of the Virgin and Child, to the right is the tabernacle on a shelf. The timber font stands against the south wall. The Stations are unframed reliefs. The light fittings are circular wrought-iron chandeliers.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1931
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed