Building » Clayhall – St John Vianney

Clayhall – St John Vianney

Stoneleigh Road, Clayhall, Ilford, Essex IG5

A large modern church of functional design by Donald Plaskett Marshall. A reordering by Austin Winkley in 1983 created a weekday chapel and introduced modern sanctuary furnishings of some quality.

A temporary chapel served from Barkingside opened in 1944. The foundation stone for the present church was laid by Bishop Wall on 9 March 1965. The church was first used for Mass on Christmas Day 1966. The architect was Donald Plaskett Marshall, the builders Messrs J. Leary & Sons of Stratford. The church and presbytery cost £83,000. The benches were paid for by Fr Gerard Kerr, the first parish priest. The parish was erected on 27 July 1967. In 1969, the Compton organ was purchased from the Ritz cinema in Nuneaton. (The Southern District of the Cinema Organ Society holds concerts at the church and maintains the organ.)

For the consecration in 1983, Austin Winkley of Williams & Winkley undertook a reordering. The altar was moved into the crossing, the former east transept arm became a weekday chapel, and a narthex inserted below the gallery. The sculptor for the new limestone furnishings was David John, the stonemasons Axtell Perry Symm and the builders Messrs Duncan & Duncan.


The altar was originally located in the northeast crossing arm until 1983 when it was moved to the centre of the crossing. This description uses the conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the former sanctuary was to the east.

The church is a modern concrete and brick structure on a Greek cross plan. The bricks on the outside are red-brown, those on the inside a darker brown; both are laid in stretcher bond. The roofs are pitched with the gables filled by glazing. The west front has a larger window above the canopied entrance doors.

The interior is a lofty and functional space. The church is lit by the clerestory windows below the roof and by four vertical window bands on the north and south sides. At the west is the narthex below the organ gallery, with the repository and the gallery stair. The north transept has a statue of St Joseph as well as the Lady Chapel with a statue of Our Lady. Beside the carved timber Lady altar is a glass mosaic panel of the Madonna and Child. The foundation stone is set into the north wall of the east arm, together with a plaque providing an English translation and a small bust of the patron saint. The weekday chapel has a canted timber screen to the crossing, with recessed crosses on both sides. There is also timber panelling on the east wall. On either side of the chapel are the limestone tabernacle and the font; large and sculptural designs by David John, 1983. The tabernacle is of stone with a bronze panel of the Agnus Dei, set on a large pedestal which also holds the brass sanctuary candlestick. The combined font and paschal candle stand has a shallow copper bowl and a brass candle stand. The chapel’s remaining furnishings are of timber, with a crucifix set into the west side of the screen. The sanctuary has a limestone altar, and a limestone and timber chair and ambo (David John, 1983). Suspended from the central chandelier is a carved crucifix within an open cross-shaped frame. The south transept has statues of St John Vianney and the Risen Christ. The Stations of the Cross are mosaics set into concrete Celtic crosses (Mrs Furneaux-Wood).

Heritage Details

Architect: Donald Plaskett Marshall

Original Date: 1965

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed