Building » Hainault – The Assumption

Hainault – The Assumption

Manford Way, Hainault, London IG7

A brick church in the Early Christian style built in the early 1950s. The design is very similar to one used by the same architect at the larger and slightly later church at Barkingside. It has a few furnishings carved by Joseph Cribb, a pupil of Eric Gill’s, which survived the re- ordering of the 1970s-80s.

A Mass Centre at Hainault was established by the parish priest at Barkingside in 1949. Work on site started in July 1952 and the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Beck on 11 October 1952. The first Mass was held in the still unfinished church in August 1953. It was opened by the Bishop on 13 December that year, when the parish was also canonically erected. The architect was David Rodney Burles, who was also responsible for the larger church at Barkingside of 1953-4, where he used a very similar design. The builders were also the same for both churches, Messrs J. Leary & Sons of Stratford. A partial re-ordering took place in the mid-1970s, which was completed in the early 1980s. The church was consecrated by Bishop McMahon on 11 February 1983. At some point, a slim bell tower (presumably similar to that at Barkingside) had to be removed due to structural damage caused by a nearby willow tree (since felled).


The church is actually facing south. This description uses the conventional liturgical orientation of the altar at the east.

The church is built in a simplified Early Christian style. The materials are brown brick in Flemish bond with tile details and a pantiled nave roof. The plan is longitudinal with a pitched roof nave and flat-roofed aisles. The sacristy is at the northeast. As  at  Barkingside,  the  central  part  of  the  west  front  projects  forward  and  is dominated by a large circular window. The central doorway is more sculptural, with brick pilaster strips supporting the arch whose tympanum holds a niche with a statue of Our Lady of the Assumption. On either side of the door are pairs of straight- headed windows; below the northern pair is the foundation stone (carved by Joseph Cribb). In front of the west faces of the aisles is a narrower narthex, so that the lateral parts of the facade step back twice. Only the northern part of the narthex has a door with  a  window  above;  the  southern  part,  housing  the  gallery  stair,  has  just  one ground-floor window. The north elevation has arched windows to clerestory and aisle, with one straight- headed  window  to  the  side  chapel,  and  two  arched  doors  with rows  of  straight- headed windows to the sacristy.

The church is slightly lower and shorter than that at Barkingside, consisting of four bays rather than six. The plain arches of the nave arcade are supported on three Tuscan stone columns and square pillars at either end. The clerestory windows are placed centrally above each arcade arch as well as above the supports. The nave has an open king-post roof, while the aisles have flat ceilings with timber beams. At the west is a gallery above the narthex from which two pairs of square-headed windows look into the nave. A holy water stoup in the narthex is by Gill’s pupil, the sculptor Joseph Cribb. At the centre of the north aisle is a shrine to the Sacred Heart, with the statue placed in a shallow arch encompassing the aisle window which is flanked by two further blind arches. The Lady Chapel (originally the Sacred Heart Chapel) at the northeast has a statue of Our Lady with three arched niches of graded size on the east wall. The sanctuary also has three niches but of equal size with statues of St John the Evangelist, Our Lady of the Assumption and St Joseph. On either side are full-height blind arches, interrupting several string courses running through the sanctuary which is lit by two side windows. The original high altar was removed during the reordering but a timber canopy with the  IHS  monogram  survives  at  the east,  suspended  from  the  flat  ceiling  of  the chancel. There is a piscina in the southeast corner. The white marble altar and ambo date from the reordering. Remains of the timber balustrade which included the altar rails survive in the arches to the side chapels. In front of the southwest corner of the sanctuary stands the stone font (by Joseph Cribb) with a circular bowl and a square stem which was relocated from the northwest during the reordering. Like the other chapel, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel (the Lady Chapel) at the southeast has three graded niches and a square-headed side window. Beside the octagonal marble tabernacle stand is another piscina. At the west end of the south aisle is a timber confessional, beside the gallery stair with an arched opening with a pair of arches into the stairwell above. The Stations are painted plaster casts.

Heritage Details

Architect: David Rodney Burles

Original Date: 1952

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed