Building » Harlow – Holy Cross

Harlow – Holy Cross

Tracyes Road, Harlow, Essex CM18

A large modern church which retains several of its original furnishings including an aluminium corona.

A Mass centre was established  in 1954, served from the church of the Assumption, Old Harlow (qv). In 1957 the first resident priest arrived (Fr Brian Foley, later Bishop of Lancaster);  he acquired the site and initiated the building of a hall (1958) which also served temporarily as a church. This was followed by the presbytery in 1959 and the school in 1960. The foundation stone for the church was laid by Bishop Foley on 6 October 1962 and the church was opened on 29 May 1963. The architects were Tooley &  Foster  of  Buckhurst  Hill,  Essex.  The  contractors  were  Leyford  Ltd  of  Bishop’s Stortford. The benefactors were the D. V. Davies Trust.

Following the Second Vatican Council the altar was moved forward and most of the altar  rails  were  moved   to  the  newly-created   Blessed   Sacrament   chapel   at  the northeast.  At some point, the font was moved from the baptistery  at the northwest corner of the church to the sanctuary. The hall was extended in 1968 by a club room with a bar. The church was consecrated  on 30 October 1992. In 2002, the parish of Holy Cross was united with that of St Luke, whose church is shared with the Church of England and the Methodist Church.

The   church   faces   west   but   this   description   uses   the   conventional,   liturgical orientation.

The church is a laminated timber portal-framed  structure with outer brick walls laid in  English  bond.  The  plan  is  rectangular  with  a  narrower  sanctuary,  all  below  a single-pitched  roof. At the northwest  is a semicircular  chapel, opposite a projecting confessional.  The sacristy and boiler room   at the southeast.

Above the three west doors is a large gable window whose three concrete frames are filled with smaller aluminium-framed  windows and a white cross. The interior is six bays  long  with  a two-bay  chancel.  The  windows  are vertical  strips,  three  per  bay. Above the west narthex is a gallery with the pipe organ. In the northwest corner is the Sacred Heart chapel, the former baptistery, with a statue on a timber pedestal. In the semi-circular recess is a statue of Our Lady. Opposite, at the southwest, are two pairs of confessionals and the gallery stair.

The Blessed  Sacrament  chapel  at the  northeast  has  the tabernacle  on a brick  and stone pedestal,  with two sections  of the former altar rails. These are of aluminium with panels of wheat and vines on either side of a central shield with emblems of the Passion. Another section survives at the south side of the sanctuary step. Along with all the sanctuary and baptistery fittings, the rails were designed by A.W. Banks of E.J. & A.T. Bradford Ltd of London and also made by them. The sanctuary has a brick and stone lectern, a Portland stone altar and the original crucifix on the east wall. Above it hangs an aluminium corona with orbs with crosses, the Agnus Dei and the Pelican in its Piety. The foundation stone is placed in the north chancel wall. The octagonal font near the sacristy at the southeast is also of Portland stone with a metal cover.

The Stations are modern paintings on canvas. The mahogany pews were designed by the architect. The floor of the nave is also of mahogany. The sanctuary and baptistery floors were originally of polished green Sienna marble terrazzo, now carpeted over.

Heritage Details


Original Date: 1962

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed