Building » Romford – St Edward the Confessor

Romford – St Edward the Confessor

Park End Road, Romford, Essex RM1

A Puginian Gothic church of 1856 by Daniel Cubitt Nichols. The church was built under the patronage of William, twelfth Lord Petre, and is a rare and fairly complete example of a mid-nineteenth century gentry- funded rural Catholic church. Later additions and alterations are designed in sympathy with the church and are in some cases of quality in their own right.

The comprehensive historical account in the list description (see below) requires only a few additions and amendments.

  • Mass was said from c.1848 in a cottage in Church Lane, off North Street. This was relocated close to the current site in 1852, not 1854. The Mission was founded in 1854 with a resident priest. Before then, Romford was served from St Mary, Moorfields in the City of London.
  • The name of the architect was Nichols, not Nicholls
  • William Bernard Petre, 12th Baron Petre, paid for the site (£200) and the construction of the church (£1,800). Several furnishings were given by his sister, Agnes Clifford, including the high altar and reredos, the west window and the original east window(sincere placed).
  • The original builders of the church were Messrs Hammond of Warley.
  • The parish was erected in 1918.
  • The reordering by Williams & Winkley took place in the mid-1980s, not 1990s. The new altar was dedicated by Bishop McMahon on 20 October 1987.
  • In 1993, the Angelus bell by the White chapel Bell Foundry was installed.
  • In 2000, Anthony Delarue was responsible for a refurbishment, which included the Millennium mosaic in the chancel floor and the installation of the gilded wrought iron cross on the restored spire.
  • Ambitious parish development plans of c.2004 (mentioned in ThBuildings oEngland) are no longer currently proposed.
  • In c.2007 the bell tower was restored.

List description


Roman Catholic Church built in 1856 by Daniel Cubitt Nicholls with donations by the Twelfth Lord Petre. Gallery added 1917. North Chapel added 1934 and gallery rebuilt. C13 Early English style. The presbytery, former school, church hall and all boundary walls are not of special interest. MATERIALS: Coursed ragstone with red tiled roof and Bath stone dressings. Chapel of yellow brick laid in English bond. PLAN: Aisle-less nave, chancel, sacristy to north-east and porch/gallery stair tower to south-west. Later North Chapel at west. EXTERIOR: Nave of four bays with two-tier buttresses separating windows with plate-tracery of the double-lancets beneath a roundel. East window has geometric tracery with triple-lights and three roundels, with carved heads of St Edward and St Agnes at the springing points of the arch. The west end has a rose window over two double shouldered arched windows with small trefoil arches in the porch/gallery stair tower. The Sacristy has a triple shoulder-arched windows in its east elevation. Steep gabled roof with a central wooden belfry topped by a splayed-foot spire, small dormers at the west end, hipped and half-hipped roofs to the porch and Latin gable crosses. The chapel has windows in a more elaborate Decorated style, door set in a Tudor arch and pitched roof with flat-roofed vestry. INTERIOR: Diagonally-boarded, timber scissors-truss roof to both the nave and chancel (the chapel has a simple boarded roof) with a panelled wooden gallery at the west end of the nave. Above the roof corbels is a trefoil-decorated timber dado. The nave windows and the two double shoulder-arched windows below the gallery are set in four-centred arched niches. Pointed chancel arch with hollow chamfers springing directly from the walls. Shoulder-arched door to the sacristy which has a pointed arched door to the presbytery. Organ over four-centred arch to chapel. Geometric design of red and black floor tiles to the nave and chancel is of late-C20 date. The fittings include the original octagonal stone font (now in the chapel), ornate stone reredos with a pinnacled canopy over scenes of the Nativity and Deposition. This is flanked by figures of St Edward the Confessor and St Agnes by Boulton and Harris (donated by Agnes Clifford, sister of Lord Petre). The original altar remains despite having been superseded by a free standing altar to its front during reordering in the 1990s. The Sanctuary also contains an aumbry with carved foliate decoration and a plain piscina, both set in foiled arches. There is a second aumbry set in a foiled arch with a painted carving of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) in the spandrel in the nave and a piscina in the south porch. The chapel contains a modern shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham by Howell and Bellion. The stained glass in the east window dates from 1885. It depicts scenes from the life of St Edward, is by Hardman and Co of Birmingham, a major supplier of stained glass during the Gothic Revival, notably for the Palace of Westminster.

HISTORY: Romford has historical associations with St Edward the Confessor, whose summer residence was at nearby Havering-atte-Bower. The Anglican parish church at Romford has the same dedication. The Catholic church, which replaced a temporary building which stood on the site from 1854, was built with money and on land donated by the twelfth Lord Petre, who was from a prominent Essex Catholic family, and was also responsible for other churches in the county at Barking, Ongar, Brentwood and Chelmsford. In a then rural location, St Edward’s was amongst the first C19 Catholic churches built in Essex under the Catholic Diocese of Westminster established in 1850. The church was dedicated in May 1856 by Cardinal Wiseman, first Archbishop of Westminster and designed by the London based architect Daniel Cubitt Nicholls. A day school to the west of the church was also built at this time, presumably also by Cubitt Nicholls. In 1890-91 this was replaced by a new building to the south of the church designed by George Sherrin (1843-1909), who seems to have had connections to the Petre family having built a number of houses, including one for himself, on land leased from the Petre estate in Ingatestone, Essex and also built Tilehurst, Brentwood for Sir Sebastian Petre in 1884. The presbytery, linked to the church via the sacristy, was probably also designed by Sherrin at this time. In 1917 a gallery was added to the west end of the chancel. In 1934 the North Chapel was added, the west gallery was rebuilt and the current church hall to the west of the church was probably added. In 1961 the church school was closed and eventually converted to a social club which was extensively remodelled and extended at the end of the C20.

Heritage Details

Architect: Daniel Cubitt Nichols

Original Date: 1856

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II