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 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 are 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.

In the Blessed Sacrament chapel at the northeast is 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

Architect: Tooley & Foster

Original Date: 1962

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed