Building » North Cheam – St Cecilia

North Cheam – St Cecilia

Stonecot Hill, Sutton, Surrey SM3

An interesting and idiosyncratic church of the 1950s, designed to meet the needs of new housing development in the area. The architect, H. S. Goodhart-Rendel, was a scholarly and innovative designer and his building is an original essay in church design.

The site of the present church was purchased in 1930 by Fr Crawford, the parish priest of Worcester Park, in expectation of new housing development. The plans of the new church were approved by the parish in 1953, but planning permission was not obtained until 1955. Building started in that year and the church was completed in 1957. North Cheam was made a separate parish in 1961. A large new presbytery with a parish room was built next to the church in 1984.


St Cecilia’s is unmistakeably a church by Goodhart-Rendel in a personal style fusing gothic, classical, vernacular and modernist forms. The plan comprises nave and aisles under a single spreading pitched roof, with a lower southwest porch and a northwest baptistery; the line of the nave roof continues over the short sanctuary which has a south transept. The building material is yellow stock brick with some red brick ornament. The roof is covered with red pantiles. The west gable wall is flanked by large brick buttresses and the base of the wall is striped with red brick ornament. Above are two tall windows flanked by shorter windows, all with segmental heads. The roof gable rises to a brick bellcote with a carved stone figure of St Cecilia in the centre and two bells. To the right of the gable is a flat-roofed porch with a pierced brick parapet; to the left is the baptistery with two small windows and a hipped roof. The low side walls under the long roof slope have plain buttresses and are blind, apart from some small windows lighting ancillary rooms. The south sanctuary transept has the same fenestration as the west gable.  On the north side is effectively a large dormer with a weatherboarded face and a single large semicircular light above a flat-roofed sacristy.

The interior is very broad, with walls of painted brick. The flat-ceilinged windowless aisles are separated from the main nave space only by two thin fluted columns on either side carrying a classical entablature from which springs the five-sided ceiling which continues the length of the church. The western bay of the nave between the porch and the former baptistery is now divided from the body of the building by a glass screen. On the south side of the sanctuary the entablature is interrupted by the transept. On the north side the entablature continues uninterrupted to the east wall with additional piers flanking the opening to a side chapel and a large window above. Flanking the main altar are side altars set against round-headed arches.The building is clear glazed throughout. The church has been reordered, but the high altar with its heavy stone console brackets set on five steps is presumably original. The church is not otherwise rich in fittings.

Heritage Details

Architect: Goodhart-Rendel, Broadbent & Curtis

Original Date: 1957

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed