Cannon Hill Lane, Merton, London SW20
St Joseph’s is typical of many substantial concrete-framed churches erected in the 1960s and 1970s and is a good example of the type. The building is a thoughtful design by a post-war architect who specialised in Catholic churches.
The present site was purchased in 1938 and a hall/church was built in that year to the designs of a Mr Watson. The hall was damaged during the war and a temporary church was erected alongside it in 1948; the hall was repaired in 1951. The design for the present church was commissioned from F. G. Broadbent & Partners in 1956. Work started in 1960, the temporary church was pulled down in 1961 and the new church was opened in September 1962. The booklet published to mark the opening notes that, ‘Every advantage has been taken of the latest discoveries and trends in construction’. Of these the most noticeable is probably the reconstituted limestone from which the entire framework of the building has been made, which consists of an aggregate of limestone chips and white cement over a steel core. The church was later reordered by Michael Hattrell architect, with furnishings by David and Marianne John.
The church is a steel framed structure. The exposed framing is clad in white aggregate and contrasts effectively with the external walls which are faced with brown Ibstock bricks. The shallow-pitched roofs are covered with copper. The plan comprises nave with north and south aisles, northwest tower and southwest morning chapel, transepts and sanctuary. The main west front has a ground floor loggia on piloti and above it a large triple window rising to the full height of the wall. The loggia forms a link to the freestanding northwest tower, which is of four stages with a shallow-pitched roof and also to the southwest morning chapel balancing the tower. The side walls have tall single clerestorey windows in each bay. Below them on the north side is a simple low aisle with a lean-to roof; on the south side is the morning chapel, confessionals and sacristies. There are full height transepts on both sides with large end windows and beyond them a full height chancel with large side windows.
The interior is spacious with a wide nave with low side aisles behind the uprights of the main frame of the building. The frame is again fully exposed though the wall surfaces are pale Leicester bricks. The floor of the nave is paved with artificial stone with parquet aisles; the low-pitched ceiling is lined with acoustic board. The nave has a deep western gallery. The space beneath was always divided from the nave by a glazed partition and the resulting vestibule provides access to the southwest morning chapel, which now has a modern suspended ceiling and originally also provided access to a baptistery in the base of the tower. The transepts extend beyond the line of the side aisles and their large windows flood the crossing with light. The sanctuary floor has been extended into the crossing with a nave altar. The tall sanctuary beyond has tall side windows with wooden louvers, the east wall is blind. The sanctuary is flanked by two lower spaces. That on the north was originally the Lady Chapel, now a baptistery with a new font by David John, that on the south a sound-proofed children’s chapel. Both have modern mosaic murals on the east wall, designed by Marianne John. Many of the windows have striking modern stained glass by Leslie A. Huitson (various dates between 1998 and 2006). According to Evinson, the Stations of the Cross are by Patrick Reyntiens, c1984. The figure of Christ on the east wall was carved in Oberammergau.
Entry amended by AHP 03.09.2023
Architect: F. G. Broadbent & Partners
Original Date: 1962
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed