London Hill, Rayleigh, Essex SS6
A church of the 1930s, completed in sympathetic manner in the 1960s. Externally this is a conventional Italian Romanesque design, while the basilican interior is powerful and austere.
The first Mass since the Reformation was said in Rayleigh in 1931. The present site in London Hill was purchased in 1933 with an existing house which served as a presbytery. The first part of the new church (nave, north aisle and porch) was built in 1934 from designs by T.H.B. Scott, Diocesan Architect and Surveyor. The church was completed in two phases in 1963 (south aisle, baptistery and sacristies) and 1966 (sanctuary and side chapels), from designs by Scott & Jaques. A new presbytery was built in 1970 to replace the old house. The Bethany Room was added to the church in 1998.
The church is in an Italian Romanesque style and is a unified design, albeit one built in three phases, outline above. The walls are faced with red brick laid in Flemish bond and the nave roof is covered in pantiles. The original church comprised a nave with a tall and narrow flat-roofed north aisle. A wider south aisle of equal height is set back from the west front to allow for a small hipped roof baptistery. There are lower flat- roofed additions along the length of the south aisle. At the east end is an apsidal sanctuary. The west front has a central round-headed doorway in a gabled surround set against the main gable wall which has a single large round window. To the left of the nave is the blind west wall of the north aisle. To the right is a lower baptistery with a pair of round-headed windows and a hipped roof. To the right of the baptistery a timber porch has been formed which shelters a side door to the church and the entrance to the new Bethany Room. The north elevation is divided into bays by brick pilaster strips with two round-headed clerestory windows in each bay. On the south side the shorter south aisle has five pairs of round-headed windows in the clerestory with brick aprons beneath, which are seen above the lower single storey hall. The eastern apse has tall windows in the two canted sides.
The interior is handsome. The walls are faced throughout with yellow stock brick, with a brown brick dado; the floor is parquet. In the west bay of the nave and north aisle is a timber organ gallery, glazed beneath to provide a vestibule. East of the gallery are four-bay nave arcades of tall round-headed arches on brick piers with stylised brick capitals. Above the arcades is an open timber roof with king-post trusses. Beyond the nave arcades proper is a quasi-crossing defined by transverse brick arches, with similar arches to side chapels. The sanctuary is semi-circular, with a flat boarded ceiling and bare brick walls above a marble dado. Both crossing and sanctuary have a green marble floor. The fittings include the font and ambo in the crossing and the altar in the apse, which are all of marble and look to date from the 1980s or later, and rood against the east wall hanging against a tapestry. The organ in the west gallery is by Alfred Kirkland of Holloway Road, North London.
Original Date: 1934
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed