Lowshoe Lane, Collier Row, Romford, Essex RM5
A plain church in a free interpretation of Italian Romanesque, old- fashioned for its date (built at the time of the Second Vatican Council). The architect was Wilfrid Mangan, who built prolifically for the Catholic Church, usually in variations on a Romanesque or Basilican theme. The church retains several of its original furnishings, including a number of stained glass windows, some of which are by Goddard & Gibbs.
A Mass centre served from Romford was established in 1933. The first resident priest arrived in 1952, the year before a temporary building used as a church, school and social centre (now the hall) opened on 10 May 1953. The architect was Donald Plaskett Marshall and the builders were Messrs Stox. The parish was erected in December of that year.
The foundation stone for the present church was laid by Bishop Wall on 6 December 1964. It was opened by the Bishop on 28 November the following year. The architect was Wilfrid Clarence Mangan and the builders J. Leary & Sons of Stratford. The church was consecrated on 6 December 1979. Since the opening a few changes have been made, including the removal of a brick lectern and the communion rails, the introduction of a new forward altar, and the conversion of the baptistery into a chapel of reconciliation. Over time, several stained glass windows have been added to the original seven in the aisles and the Lady Chapel. In 1983 the organ, by Schumacher of Belgium, was installed.
The church actually faces west. This description uses the conventional liturgical orientation.
The church is faced with buff bricks laid in Flemish bond. The pitched roof is covered in pantiles. On plan, the building is longitudinal with an aisled nave, the former baptistery at the northwest, the sacristy at the northeast and the Lady Chapel at the southeast. The west front has a tall recessed arch encompassing three arched windows and a stone doorcase with semi-circular pediment enclosing a mosaic of the Papal arms. On either side are three arched windows, flanked by the former baptistery with a canted corner and arched windows, and, to the southwest, by a flat- roofed porch with two arched windows to the west.
The interior is of eight bays, without division between nave and sanctuary, with a segmental arched vault. An arcade of plain arches divides nave and side aisles. Each
bay has a circular clerestory window with a cross in coloured glass, and paired arched aisle windows. The arcade and corresponding pilasters in the aisles are of red brick, laid in Flemish bond, with other walls plastered. Above the narthex is the organ gallery with the small pipe organ (1983, Schumacher) set into the balustrade. The baptistery, now the chapel of reconciliation, has an aumbry, a recently installed stained glass window of a cross with a priest’s stole and a statue of the Sacred Heart. The former confessionals at the northwest and southwest are now disused.
Above the door to the sacristy is a statue of St Joseph. In the sanctuary, the two easternmost arches on the north side and the easternmost on the south are blind and their pillars hold an aumbry and piscina. At the northwest corner of the sanctuary is a large brick-built pulpit, which, according to photos of 1966 used to be balanced by an identical lectern on the other side (CBR.S1966). The east end has a shallow recess lit by narrow arched side windows. The crucifix on the east wall formerly hung in the predecessor church. On either side of the recess are the foundation stone of 1964 and the tabernacle on a brick pedestal. The forward altar of Carrara marble with a matching platform dates from the reordering. The original timber canopy (Hearne & Co, Waterford), carved with finials, battlements and shields, still hangs at the east end. In the place of the former second lectern is now the octagonal font of Ancaster stone.
The Lady Chapel has a marble statue of the Virgin Mary in a shallow recessed arch behind a timber altar. Four south windows have stained glass depictions of the Immaculate Conception, the Visitation, the Assumption and the Nativity.
The stained glass windows in the north aisle depict: the font and dove, St Francis (Goddard & Gibbs, 1994), St Clare of Assisi, the Good Shepherd (Goddard & Gibbs, 1974), St Michael, St Theresa, St Anne Line, the Infant of Prague and St Mark the Evangelist. The south aisle windows have stained glass of: St Patrick, St Joseph, the Holy Family, the Sacred Heart, the wheat and the vine. The Stations are carved reliefs. The benches of Sapele West African hardwood were made by Hearne & Co, Waterford.
Architect: Wilfrid C. Mangan
Original Date: 1964
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed