Gresham Road, Staines, Middlesex TW18
An architecturally modest complex which grew up piecemeal between 1890 and 1987. The various phases can be seen in the different colours of the brickwork. The result cannot be said to be harmonious and there never seems to have been money for much elaboration. The architect of the 1930s church, T. H. B. Scott, was responsible for a number of inter-war Catholic churches around London. The interior of the church is light, compact, and apparently well-used.
In 1862 a Catholic mission was founded in Sunbury, also serving Hampton and Staines. Mass was said at the latter in the Union Workhouse, which stood on the site of the present Ashford Hospital. In 1890 a chapel dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians was opened in Gresham Road in the care of a priest from Hampton Wick. The first residential priest was Fr Charles Clark and, after he was succeeded in 1893, the dedication of the chapel was changed to Our Lady of the Rosary. The original chapel now forms the parish hall, in which the former sanctuary area can be identified by the wood block flooring. This area was screened off during the week so that the body of the church could be used as a school. Fr Francis Hackett came in 1925 and stayed for twenty-seven years. He built the school, which stood on the site of the present car park (until 1986).
In 1932 a new church was built to the east of the original one, which then became an extension of the worship space. In 1986 major changes took place following designs prepared in 1984: the old church became the church hall, and toilets and a porch were built on its north side. To compensate for the loss of accommodation, an aisle was thrown out on the north side of the church while, on the south, the existing passage aisle was also extended outwards, taking in part of the service accommodation at the rear of the presbytery. In 1987 the dining room of the presbytery was converted into a weekday chapel, Scott’s baldacchino removed and the high altar was moved to its present position. The three building phases are clearly discernible in the different colours of the brickwork.
The buildings that make up the complex are of red brick. The church itself, built in 1932 and designed by T. H. Birchall Scott, has a three-bay nave, and a sanctuary with a single straight bay and a windowless, three-sided apse (semi-circular internally). The nave has pairs of round-headed clerestory windows; the straight bay of the sanctuary has single oculi on either side. The interior is an amalgam of the 1930s and 1980s work. The nave has square piers on either side, the lower, thinner parts of which on the south are 1980s replacements to improve sight-lines: they match the new work on the north). The north aisle and the outer part of the south aisle are low. At the entrance to the sanctuary is a broad, round arch and there is a second, lower one set before the apse.
Fixtures and fittings:
Architect: Not established; T. H. Birchall Scott; J. A. MacCormack
Original Date: 1890
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed