Building » Thornton Heath – St Andrew

Thornton Heath – St Andrew

Brook Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7

A modest portal framed church of the late 1960s, replacing a former Masonic Hall which had been acquired in 1903. The most notable feature of the church is a stained glass window by Joseph E. Nuttgens.

Thornton Heath grew as a suburb of Croydon after the arrival of the railway. The station was opened in 1861, at which time there were about 1,400 Catholics in the area. This number had quadrupled by the turn of the twentieth century, and in 1903 Fr John McKenna, rector of St Mary’s, Croydon, established a mission in a former Masonic Hall and dance hall in Beulah Road East (now Brook Road). This had been made possible by a donation from Miss Frances Ellis, who supported the building of a great many Catholic churches in South London in the early years of the twentieth century. The church was adapted and furnished for Catholic worship and opened in 1905. The dedication to St Andrew is unusual in a Catholic context, and may have been the wish of Miss Ellis, who had a patriotic devotion to ‘British’ saints.

The present church was built in 1968-69 at the instigation of the then parish priest, Fr Furey, on the site of the old church. The architects were Broadbent, Hastings, Reid & Todd of Twickenham and the builders Adams Brothers of Croydon. The church was designed to seat 480, about 200 more than the old church, and the total cost, including furnishings, was £46,000. A number of furnishings were brought over from the old church. Chief amongst the new furnishings was a stained glass window in the Blessed Sacrament chapel by Joseph E. Nuttgens.

In 1973 a new and enlarged parish hall was built on the site of the old one, linking through to the south transept of the church, to provide additional seating when required. The church was consecrated by Archbishop Bowen in 1980. The sanctuary was reordered by Tomei & Mackley, Architects, in 1981.


The church is a modern design, of portal frame construction with brick infill panel walls, faced externally with Dorking red bricks, with a shallow pitched roof. It is T- shaped in plan, consisting of a wide nave with narrow circulation aisle on the south side and two transepts facing towards the sanctuary (that on the south side opening onto the parish hall, to provide overspill seating). There is a continuous clerestory around the nave, the glazing at the west end following the line of the shallow pitched roof. There is a small metal cross on the west gable. In front of this is a flat roofed narthex, originally housing a baptistery on one side, with timber entrance doors and inset foundation stone to the left. At the east end there is a raised monopitch roof over the sanctuary area, providing additional height and light at that point. The external windows have all been renewed in uPVC.

The entrance lobby/lobby/crying room or narthex leads into a wide, light nave, with a narrow circulation aisle to the south, separated from the nave by wide square openings with square piers. Between the top of these openings and the clerestory Stations of the Cross are fixed to the wall. At the west end there is a depiction of St Andrew etched into the glass, with a blue saltire cross. The walls are plastered and painted white, the suspended ceiling is boarded. In the aisle is the shrine to Our Lady, reused from the old church, its surround clad with blue mosaics in 1981. Also in the aisle are carved wooden rood figures, from the old church.

The sanctuary furnishings largely date from the Tomei & Maxwell reordering of 1981. There is a high grey marble reredos panel against the east wall,  incorporating  a crucifix, and replacing a rather jazzy stencil painted reredos. The sanctuary floor is of white marble tiles with grey nosings and treads to the steps. The altar is that of 1969, of grey Italian marble. To the side of the sanctuary in the southeast corner of the church is the Blessed Sacrament chapel, incorporating on its south wall a large stained glass window depicting the Last Supper, by Joseph E. Nuttgens, 1968-69; the marble floor and the gold mosaics behind the tabernacle are from 1981.

Heritage Details

Architect: Broadbent, Hastings, Reid & Todd

Original Date: 1968

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed