Building » Tottenham – St Francis de Sales

Tottenham – St Francis de Sales

High Road, Tottenham, London N17

The Tottenham mission was established in 1793 by an émigré French clergyman. The present church is a simple turn of the twentieth century town church with conventional Gothic detailing, sympathetically extended by the addition of a new sanctuary in the 1960s. The group of church, presbytery and school makes a positive contribution to the local conservation area.

The mission was established as early as 1793, when Tottenham was completely rural, apart from some development along the High Road. A chapel in Queen Street, dedicated to St Francis de Sales, was opened by Fr (later Cardinal) Cheverus, a French émigré priest. This was rebuilt in Chapel Place, White Hart Lane in 1826-27, when a school was also built nearby.

The arrival of the railways in the later nineteenth century and the cheap fares offered to workers by the railway company brought an explosion in the population of the area.  In 1882 services were transferred to a new school-chapel in Brereton Road and the old chapel was sold and eventually demolished. The present church was opened in 1895, although it had been designed some seven years earlier, by the Liverpool firm of Sinnott, Sinnott & Powell.

In 1966-67 a new sanctuary was added, from designs by Archard & Partners.  


The church is in Decorated Gothic style, the external walls faced with yellow brick with red brick bands, stone surrounds to the windows and roof coverings of Welsh slate. The plan comprises a tall nave with steeply-pitched roof, pent-roofed aisles set back from the west front behind low flat-roofed forebuildings and an aisled chancel. The church is not orientated; the liturgical east end faces west.  The (liturgical) west front has a large five-light pointed window with geometrical tracery in the head set over the pointed main entrance doorway. The west front is flanked by single-storey flat-roofed forebuildings with three-light mullioned windows.  Behind these forebuildings the nave is five bays long, with two-light pointed traceried windows to the aisles and three-light stepped windows to the clerestory.  The modern aisled chancel has blind aisle walls and four square windows in the clerestory. The east wall is also blind.

The internal walls are all plastered and painted; the floor is parquet.  There are five-bay north and south arcades of broad moulded and chamfered arches on clustered shafts with foliage capitals.  The windows of both aisles and clerestory have moulded rere-arches dying into plain reveals.  The nave has a three-sided boarded timber ceiling; the aisles have timber roofs with openwork trusses.  At the west end of the nave is a modern timber gallery with the vestibule beneath.  At the east end a tall pointed arch on clustered wall shafts resting on angel corbels opens into the sanctuary, which was added to the church in 1966. Below the clerestory the sanctuary has single broad pointed arches on either side opening into side chapels and a blind east wall with a crucifix in a timber surround. Almost all of the windows in the church are clear-glazed.  The large framed Stations of the Cross apart, the fittings are simple.

Heritage Details

Architect: Sinnott, Sinnott & Powell;

Original Date: 1895

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed