Building » Crayford – St Mary of the Crays

Crayford – St Mary of the Crays

Old Road, Crayford, London DA1

A functional church of 1972-73, part of which used to be the parish hall. It incorporates one stained-glass window and the organ from the Victorian predecessor church.

Before 1840, a priest from Woolwich said Mass once a month at the manor house, ‘Shenstone’, owned by the inventor Augustus Applegarth. Applegarth himself was not a Catholic but his son, Augustus junior, was ordained in 1839. By 1840, he was the mission priest at Crayford. He organised the building of a church, which opened on 11 May 1842. As the parish was relatively poor, the builders and the debt were only slowly paid off. In 1851 another building was at least partially completed, for use as a combined presbytery, school and schoolmaster’s house. For a time, a Mrs Bramwell lived in part of the presbytery and funded an extension to the house. She also donated over £500 for a school extension.

In 1931 a parish hall was built. By the 1950s the old church was far too small and discussions took place about plans for an enlarged or new church. In the early 1960s the Church Building and Restoration Fund was established. Meanwhile, the schools were further extended, including a new school hall of 1970. The old church was reordered in 1967. In 1968 house Masses commenced in the homes of parishioners, prompting the division of the parish into 11 sections, or mini-parishes.

In 1971 the contract for the new church was signed off. The foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Cowderoy on 29 April 1972. On 6 December 1973, the new church was formally opened. The architect was W. Brian Mead of PPI Building & Engineering Consultants Ltd. The main contractor was Levers Construction of Penshurst, Kent. The stained glass was designed and made by G. Maile & Son, Canterbury; and the crucifix by Vanpoulles Ltd, Purley. The bell for the bell tower was donated by Ealing Abbey.  The new church consisted of  a sanctuary with  a small worship  space for weekday services, and a large multi-purpose space, divided by a folding screen, which could  be  removed  for  larger  services.  Attached  was  a  two-storey  parish  centre housing meeting rooms, lavatories, a kitchen, a youth room, the sacristies and the heating chamber. The old church was demolished after one stained-glass window, the altar rails, and the organ were moved to the new church.

As the multi-purpose space eventually became a permanent part of the church, a new hall was required. This was opened in January 1983. A link to the two-storey parish centre also provided a new entrance to the church and complex. The church was consecrated on 22 February 1987.

The  church  is  actually  facing  north.  This  description  will  use  the  conventional liturgical orientation.

The church and the attached two-storey parish centre were built in 1972-73 from designs  by  W.  Brian  Mead.  The  facades  are  built  of  dark  brown  bricks,  laid  in stretcher bond. The plan is rectangular with an attached thin bell tower at the northeast corner, which also incorporates a chimney. The main facade facing the street is the liturgical east front. It has a small gabled projection with lateral glass brick windows, and a painting of the Holy Family above the foundation stone. On either side are two straight-headed windows.

The wide nave is three bays long, with the sanctuary occupying one bay at the east. The suspended ceiling is tiled, with radiators recessed into the roof space, using a heating system by the originally Dutch company Frenger Systemen. The entrance from the parish centre is at the northwest corner. The door to the sacristy is on the same (north) side, further east. The west side has a row of nine windows, an emergency exit, a built-in confessional, a storage cupboard, and a central niche with a large timber statue of Our Lady of the Crays. The south side has a row of ten windows and another emergency exit.

The sanctuary has a central panel of exposed brick, on the inside of the shallow projection. In front of the brick panel hangs a carved cross with the Risen Christ by Vanpoulles Ltd. On either side are casts of the Sacred Heart and the Virgin. The font, altar, tabernacle stand and lectern are all of rough textured granite. The chairs, a second lectern, and the large candle stands are made from timber. The four east windows have stained glass, depicting (left to right): St Thomas More, Our Lady (in memory of Philip Augustine White (1879–1892)), St Joseph (in memory of Annie Durkin, died 1972), and St John Fisher. The window of Our Lady came from the Victorian church; the other three windows are by G. Maile & Son. The Stations are metal reliefs mounted on rectangular timber panels. The organ in a simplified Gothic Revival case is placed in the southeast corner.

Heritage Details

Architect: W. Brian Mead

Original Date: 1972

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed