Building » Parsons Green – Holy Cross

Parsons Green – Holy Cross

Ashington Road, London SW6

An early work of T.H.B. Scott, in collaboration with Fr Benedict Williamson, in their distinctive stripped Early Christian style. It has a pleasing, light and welcoming interior and the exterior makes a notable contribution to the local townscape. The cost of the church was borne by Mr Edward Eyre, who also paid for the Church of Our Lady in Stephendale Road: the same architects were employed and the two churches share common aspects of design.

Fr William Kelly of Hammersmith had a Mass centre and school in Parsons Green Lane in 1842-48 which became the nucleus of St Thomas’s mission. A permanent mission was established when Canon C.J. Kennan opened a school chapel in Ashington Road in June 1884. Then in 1887 a temporary iron church was opened. Designs were drawn up in 1923 for a permanent church using sketch plans by Fr Benedict Williamson and T. H. B. Scott, who provided the detailed plans and overall supervision. The cost of the church was borne by Mr Edward Eyre, who also paid for the Church of Our Lady in Stephendale Road (qv): the same architects were employed and the two churches share common aspects of design. The foundation stone was laid on 19 January 1924 and the consecration took place on 21 December the same year.

In 1955 designs were prepared  by T. G. B. Scott, son of one of the original architects, to add a further west bay and a west porch and also a small extension to the sacristies to fill in the space between the church and the presbytery. The old west front of the 1920s church was moved forward. This work was carried out in 1956.

In 2000 plans were made by Stephen Scully for a radical reordering of the sanctuary, which provided the present setting for the altar, a priest’s chair and an ambo. In 2010 the underside of the gallery was enclosed, and a new lighting scheme introduced.


The earlier phase of the church is faced with Luton Grey stock brick, laid in Flemish bond, with Portland stone dressings: the western extension is faced with bricks of a lighter hue. The church is in a simple round-arched style and consists of a sanctuary and shallow transepts, a five-bay nave (west bay from 1956) with passage aisles (of same height as the nave) and a western porch: at the southeast corner there is a rather incongruous garage (added post-1955) with an up-and-over metal door. The walls of the church are sheer, with high-set windows (no windows at ground level), and no opening in the east wall (apart from a small oculus at the top which is invisible internally as it is above the level of the sanctuary ceiling). The design is similar to the almost contemporary Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Stephendale Road (qv). The west end of the nave has a broad central feature which houses a single bell opening. Over the single-storey porch area is a flat roof; the porch opens into a glazed-in area under the gallery.

The internal walls are plastered and all wall surfaces have light, nearly white paintwork. The nave roof is whitened too, apart from the fawn-coloured tie-beams and wall-plates. The round-arched motifs are continued inside in the arches to the nave and sanctuary: the piers to the aisles are square. Over the nave is a tie-beam roof and over the sanctuary a flat, panelled ceiling. The tie-beams and wall-plates to the roofs all bear T. H. B. Scott’s characteristic decorative motif – a triple, wicket-like feature. This reappears in the top rail to the aisle dadoes, and also on the seating where the triple parallel lines are reduced to two. The sanctuary was reordered in 2000: its central feature is a circular platform for the altar which can be approached up triple steps from each of the cardinal directions. This work has been carried out at some considerable expense and is executed in variegated beige and grey limestone. The same material is used for the ambo and the presidential chair. At the east end of the sanctuary the walls are lined with marble which dates from or soon after the original build – beige for the main panels with green for the dividing strips.

Fixtures and fittings: 

  • Conventional open bench seating which would appear to date from the original building of the church
  • In the south transept (Blessed Sacrament Chapel) are four striking wooden standing figures of the Evangelists carved in low relief in panels on the wall (date not established)
  • Stations of the Cross, designed, according to Evinson, by M. Chantral, 1922 (i.e. dating from before the church): deeply carved, realistic treatments in wood treated to imitate plasterwork
  • Crucifix on the east wall set against a beige marble background and with flanking red-brown pilasters.
  • Low relief carving by Stephen Foster in the Lady Chapel, 2012.

Heritage Details

Architect: T. H. B. Scott and Fr Benedict Williamson; T. G. B. Scott; Stephen Scully

Original Date: 1924

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed