Bishopsford Road, Morden, Surrey SM4
A simple but striking interwar church designed by the prolific Catholic architect W. C. Mangan. The tall roof is a prominent feature of the local area and contributes substantially to the architectural interest of the interior. The church was built to serve the newly-built St Helier housing estate.
The extension of the Northern Line of the Underground to Morden opened in 1926 and the large St Helier cottage estate was developed by the London County Council between 1928 and 1936. In September 1930 a priest was appointed to serve the new estate. At first Mass was said in a temporary hut, then in the hall of Holy Family school, but in 1935 an anonymous donation of £8,000 made possible the building of the present church on a site adjacent to the school. The church was built from designs by Wilfrid Mangan and opened on 15 July 1937. A presbytery was built next to the church shortly afterwards.
In the brochure published to mark the opening, the style of the church building was described as ‘a simple modern rendering of the Romanesque’. Some of the detailing has an arts and crafts character. The plan of the church comprises an unaisled nave and narrower sanctuary under a tall swept pitched roof with a continuous ridge. On the north side of the church is a substantial projecting porch with a round-headed doorway and a pitched roof and at the southeast corner is a Lady Chapel. The walls are faced with red Dorking bricks laid in Flemish bond and the roof is covered with pantiles. The tall west gable wall has three pairs of small round-headed windows at low level with a single wide round-headed window in the gable. The north wall has the porch in the west bay and five more bays of simple round-headed windows divided by pilaster strips. The south side of the nave has six bays with semi-circular windows at the head of each bay and various single-storey projections below. The sanctuary has a single wide round-headed window on each side and a blind east wall.
The interior is an impressive space, thanks largely to the tall and elaborate open-framed timber roof over the nave. The roof has tall principal rafters springing from between the window heads, with tie beams and arch braces brought down onto brick corbels. The common rafters spring from the wall plate and there are two tiers of purlins. The nave is a single volume with a carpeted floor and plastered walls above a brick dado. All the window openings have exposed brick arches and the windows themselves are mainly clear glazed, with the original decorative leading. A western gallery contains the organ, and the space below the gallery has been enclosed with a glazed partition. The south side of the nave has a run of seven irregular round-headed brick arches which open to confessionals and to the Lady Chapel. The short sanctuary is raised three steps above the nave and is reached under a broad brick arch. The sanctuary floor has been extended into the nave as part of a reordering. Most of the sanctuary fittings appear to date from the 1970s or 1980s. The exception is the circular font of Clipsham stone, originally set in a small baptistery near the main entrance but now on the sanctuary steps.
Architect: W. C. Mangan
Original Date: 1937
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed