Building » Sutton – Our Lady of the Rosary

Sutton – Our Lady of the Rosary

St Barnabas Road, Sutton, Surrey SM1

A modest late nineteenth-century building enlarged in several building campaigns, of which the most interesting is the 1920s enlargement by John Hawes and the elaborate fittings of that time by Linthout of Bruges.

The present site was purchased in 1882 and a dual-purpose iron church and school erected. A presbytery was built in 1888. In 1891 the iron church was damaged by a storm and a design for a new and more durable school-chapel was provided by the architect Edward Ingress Bell, a local resident and parishioner. It was intended that the building should become a school with a new church between the presbytery fronting Carshalton Road but the church was never realised and Bell’s building was used solely as a church from 1894. In 1910 Fr Caspar Lutz was appointed parish priest. In 1912 he arranged for the purchase of additional land and commissioned designs for a new sanctuary extension from the architect John Hawes. Building was delayed by the Great War but the sanctuary was finished in 1922. Fr Lutz died in 1924 but it was probably he who commissioned the  elaborate sanctuary furnishings by Linthout of Bruges, which were completed by 1928. A north aisle was added in 1932. In 1992 plans were approved for a parish centre, to be built partly on the site originally intended for the church.  The centre was completed in 1995.

John Hawes (1876-1956) trained as an architect in London and worked in the office of Edmeston & Gabriel. He converted to Catholicism in 1915 and moved to Western Australia, where he served both as a priest and as diocesan architect. He designed many Catholic churches in Western Australia, including what is now the Cathedral of Francis Xavier, Geraldton, in the Spanish mission style. In 1939 he obtained permission from Rome to become a hermit and settled on Cat Island in the Bahamas. He built a hermitage and attempted to live there under the name of Fra Jerome, but his architectural talents were soon sought and he spent much time designing churches and supervising building on Cat Island, Long Island, and in Nassau. where he provided designs for a convent, a boys’ college, and the Benedictine monastery of St Augustine.


The church is an accretive building, which is evident in the incoherent external appearance and the complicated plan, which comprises a nave with a pitched roof, a flat-roofed north aisle, a south aisle with three transeptal pitched roofs and a tall octagonal sanctuary rising above the rest of the church. All the walls are faced with yellow stock brick, with some red brick banding, and the roofs are covered with Welsh slate. The west end fronting St Barnabas Road looks like a school, which is what it was originally, with a gabled central section with two tall pointed windows flanked by shorter windows of the same form with roundels over. There was originally a bellcote at the gable end, but this has been removed. To the left is a small projection which was originally the school porch, to the right is a taller projection with two windows. On the north side elevation to Bramley Road the long north aisle has four large windows, then a slightly smaller pair, then four small windows, all with pointed heads and all without tracery. On the south side, the shorter aisle is contained in three large gabled projections, with a projecting brick porch on the westernmost, which has a pointed entrance doorway with stylised stone panelling above. In the head of the gable over the porch is a bell hung under a timber canopy. The eastern end of the church is enclosed by other buildings but the tall sanctuary with its elongated octagonal plan and tall hipped roof is a striking element and very French in appearance. There are plain lancet windows in the side walls and two-light traceried windows in the canted eastern sides.

The interior is equally mixed in character. The nave has an open timber roof with king-post trusses. The north wall is pierced by five shouldered pointed arches opening into the wide flat-roofed north aisle. On the south side are five plain pointed arches of differing heights to the south aisle. At the west end of the nave is an organ gallery. The underside of the gallery and the western ends of both aisles are enclosed with glazed partitions to make a large lobby space. At the east end of the nave is a plain pointed chancel arch which opens into the tall sanctuary. On either side are twin pointed arches. Those on the left or north side open into the side chapel; those on the right are blind. The walls above the arches are now plain but originally had painted decoration. The sanctuary has a plaster vaulted ceiling. Across the whole of the east wall of the sanctuary is an elaborate baldacchino and reredos in Carrara marble and mosaic by the Linthout brothers of Bruges, who also made the high altar. Both the side altars have similar though smaller altars and reredoses. The sanctuary ensemble was originally more elaborate, with marble altar rails and a marble octagonal pulpit, both by Linthout, but these were removed when the church was reordered in the early 1970s. Other fittings of interest include stained glass of the late 1890s by Mayer & Co of Munich at the west end and in the north aisle. There is also some 1930s stained glass by Jones & Willis and by Hardman of Birmingham.

Heritage Details

Architect: E. Ingress Bell, John Cyril Hawes

Original Date: 1892

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed