Building » Kelveden – St Mary Immaculate and the Holy Archangel

Kelveden – St Mary Immaculate and the Holy Archangel

Church Street, Kelvedon, Colchester, Essex CO5

A small Gothic church of the 1890s, extended in the early twentieth century. The interior is charming and intimate, and contains a number of furnishings of note, including stained glass by Lavers and Westlake. 

A mission was established at Kelvedon in 1875, using a converted schoolroom, and served (until 1881) by priests from the Institute of St Andrew at Barnet, Hertfordshire, one of whose aims was to encourage the establishment of chapels and missions in rural areas. A benefactor of the new mission was Richard Rann of Messing Park, who had converted to Catholicism in 1866. The present church was designed by C.T. Thorn and built by Messrs Thorn of Messing; it was opened and consecrated on 24 October 1891. A convent, orphanage and school for young ladies had been built alongside; the Sisters arrived in 1885 but according to Bettley (p. 511) the present building dates from 1890, and was later enlarged by George Sherrin. It is a picturesque design typical of Sherrin, incorporating tile hanging and timber-framed gables. The orphanage was run by the Missionary Franciscan Sisters from 1897. Sherrin enlarged the church too, in 1909, with an extended sanctuary, a new Lady Chapel, sacristy and confessional. The presbytery was also added at this time (Bettley, p. 510). These additions were supported by the convert Sheldrake family, who lived locally.


The church is orientated roughly north-south, but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation, as if the altar was at the east end.

This is a small church, built in Perpendicular Gothic style, of red brick with Bath stone dressings, under a plain tile roof. It consists of nave, south aisle, and a square-ended chancel with flanking chapels. A parish room gives off the north chapel, and at the west end the church is linked to the former convent building alongside. The nave and south aisle present a twin gabled elevation to the street, each gable with a raised parapet with stone coping and surmounted by a stone cross. The central doorway to the nave is not in use. Above it there is a carved stone statue of a saint in a Gothic niche, flanked by marrow lancet windows with cusped heads. The west elevation of the aisle has a larger two-light window with Perp. tracery. The present main entrance is at the side, via what was originally a corridor link to the convent. Here there is a simple door with flat lintel, and a nice leaded mini-oriel window alongside.

The interior is small and intimate. The nave and aisles consist of three bays, separated by a painted stone arcade with flattened Tudor arches. There is a collar rafter and purlin stained pine roof over the nave, the trusses carried down to wall posts, all chamfered. The aisles and sanctuary have simpler rafter roofs, the latter painted. The sanctuary is flanked to the north by the Blessed Sacrament chapel and to the south by the Lady Chapel, the latter incorporating the baptistery. The side chapels have plaster ceilings. The internal walls are faced in bare red brick laid in English bond, with some dark brick banding at sill and window head height. The windows are all of two lights, with Perp. tracery, except for the three-light windows in the sanctuary and Blessed Sacrament chapel and a spherical triangle window in the Lady Chapel. The floor finish in the nave and aisles is of quarry tiles with heating grilles in the circulation areas, and otherwise linoleum. The sanctuary has a more elaborate encaustic tile floor, while the flanking chapels have woodblock floors.

Furnishings of note include:

  • A good set of original or early stained glass windows by Lavers & Westlake, several of which are in memory of members of the Rann family
  • At the sanctuary arch, a fine rood with polychrome painted figures
  • An altar in red Aberdeen marble and stone, with fourtre foil-headed arches on the frontal and foot piece inlaid with mosaic paving with a white marble kerb (brought forward)
  • An octagonal stone font with alternating panels
  • A statue of St Joseph at the entrance to the Lady Chapel, by Mayer of Munich
  • Simple pine benches with scrolled ends.
Heritage Details

Architect: C. T. Thorn; George Sherrin

Original Date: 1891

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed