Building » Clapton – St Scholastica

Clapton – St Scholastica

Kenninghall Road, London E5

A bright, modern church whose architectural interest lies mainly in its west elevation with its distinctive apses. The presbytery, the former school and the predecessor chapel were originally part of a complex which included E. W. Pugin’s St Scholastica’s Retreat almshouses (demolished).

The mission was founded from Kingsland and from 1862 was based in a rented room in London Road. In 1879-82 the hall of St Scholastica’s Retreat was used as a chapel. The Retreat (essentially almshouses) was founded by William Harrison and his sister Elizabeth, using an endowment from the estate of their brother Robert (died 1852) and his widow, Charlotte Scholastica. It served forty poor Catholics over sixty years of age, housed in self-contained dwellings designed by E. W. Pugin and built in stages between 1861 and 1874. (The buildings were demolished in 1972 and the Retreat is now based in Princes Risborough, Bucks.)

In 1868, the mission and the site were transferred from the Fathers of Charity (Rosminians) to the diocese. In c.1879, the presbytery was built for the first full-time mission priest. In c.1882, a school chapel was built, which served the adjacent school and the mission. (Both school and chapel survive as the parish halls.) The foundation stone for the present church was laid on 29 September by Cardinal Godfrey. It was opened in 1963. The architects were John E. Sterrett and B. D. Kaye of John E. Sterrett & Partners. The builders were Pitcher Ltd of Holloway. On 15 February 1987, the church was consecrated by Cardinal Hume and Bishop Guazelli, following reordering.


The church faces north. This description uses the liturgical orientation.

The walls are faced in grey brick in Flemish bond between the concrete frames. The roof is hipped at the east end and covered in pantiles. The windows are of metal. The plan is rectangular, of an aisled nave with a narrower, square-ended sanctuary. The west front has a window of six vertical bands above three gabled doors. On either side are apse-like projections with smaller vertical windows filled with coloured glass.

The narthex has the repository in the northwest apse and a small meeting room or chapel in the southwest apse (the former baptistery). Above the narthex is the gallery, now entirely encased with a glazed screen towards the nave. The seven-bay nave has a flat ceiling and oblong clerestory windows. The arcade has gabled canted arches on square piers. The aisle windows follow the form of the arcade and the aisle ceilings consist of pitched transverse panelling. At the west end of the north aisle is a statue of St Joseph and the Christ Child on a marble corbel. Set in the third nave arch from the east is the pipe organ (J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd, London, 1963). The northeast chapel is dedicated to the Sacred Heart and has a statue on a marble corbel above a marble altar. The Lady Chapel at the southeast also has a marble altar and a statue on a corbel. The current font is of timber.

The sanctuary has a coffered, painted ceiling and its original marble floor is now carpeted over. The altar rails have been removed. On either side are four windows above four blind arches, with the sacristy doors in the eastern arches. The tabernacle stand and the forward altar are of the same travertine marble as the side altar and of matching design. Behind the tabernacle is a timber reredos with hangings behind the crucifix and a timber canopy. The foundation stone is set into the north side.

On either side of the chancel arch are statues of St Martin de Porres and St Scholastica. The south aisle has a brass plaque commemorating the consecration of the church. Between the pews, the floor in the nave and aisles is of cork. The Stations of the Cross are unframed casts.

Heritage Details

Architect: John E. Sterrett & B. D. Kaye

Original Date: 1963

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed