Building » Walthamstow – Our Lady of the Rosary

Walthamstow – Our Lady of the Rosary

Blackhorse Road, Walthamstow, London E17

A church of the so-called ‘Ellis box’ type funded by Miss Frances Ellis and generally built in South London. Built in 1908 by one of Miss Ellis’s favourite architects, Fr Benedict Williamson, it was extended in 1930. A reordering in the 1980s removed most of the original furnishings.

The  church  was  opened  on  3  October  1908.  The  architect  was  Fr  Benedict Williamson, with his partner J. H. Beart Foss as supervising architect. Miss Frances Ellis  (1846-1930),  an  heiress,  gave  £1,000  towards the  costs.  Miss  Ellis,  who converted to Catholicism in 1901, spent her fortune on founding new churches, particularly in the Archdiocese of Southwark. Of the nearly thirty churches built with her help, at least seven are designed by Fr Benedict Williamson (1868-1948), including those at Abbey Wood, Tooting, Bromley Common and Earlsfield. Like other ‘Ellis boxes’, Our Lady and St Patrick is built in a simplified Romanesque style using stock brick. It has the typical round window at the west. Again, like other Ellis churches, the building was later extended and embellished, when funds permitted. As far as is known, this is the only Ellis church north of the Thames.

Until July 1910, when the mission got a resident priest, the church was served by St George’s, Walthamstow.  The Stations were erected in 1914.   The paris  was canonically erected in 1919. In 1930 the church was extended by the addition of the Lady Chapel, the sanctuary and sacristy (presumably also by Williamson and Foss). In 1936 a high altar, pulpit and altar rails in marble and stone by F.G. White & Co of Hampton Court were installed. In 1965 the large gallery and organ loft with raked seating was added; the organ was rebuilt in 1975 by S.A. Burke of Walthamstow.

In 1982-83 (Buildings of England: 1990s), Gerald Murphy of Burles Newton & Partners undertook a reordering which removed the 1930s furnishings and replaced them with new ones by S.G. West. A curved screen wall was also inserted within the apse. On 6 March 1985 the church was consecrated.


The church is built in stock brick laid in English bond and the roofs are pantiled. The plan is T-shaped and consists of a nave with narrow aisles, a low entrance lobby at the west, an apsed sanctuary flanked by chapels and a transeptal south porch. The sacristy is at the northeast corner. The  west facade  has  a  wheel  window  in  the  gable,  a  stone  gable  cross  and  a tympanum with a mosaic of Our Lady with the Child and St Patrick. An asymmetrical porch in front of the original entrance has a crucifix, three small windows and the entrance door.

Inside the porch’s northwest corner is the repository. The nave is five bays long, with a  large,  and  rather low,  organ  gallery  occupying  the westernmost  two  bays. The exposed roof is of kingpost construction. The aisle and clerestory windows are round-headed, with one of each per bay. A plain arcade divides nave and aisles. Every two bays a plain strip pilaster rises up to the corbel supporting the roof truss. The north aisle has statues of St Martin de Porres, St Anthony and St Theresa. The Lady Chapel at the northeast has two small windows to the east and one to the south, as well as a large statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. On either side of the sanctuary arch are large statues of St Patrick and the Sacred Heart. The sanctuary furnishings date from 1982-83 (S. G. West) and are of matching polished stone. A timber crucifix hangs above the altar. At the southeast is the Blessed Sacrament Chapel – like the Lady Chapel a plain and dimly-lit space – with the tabernacle on a stand which is part of the 1980s set of furnishings. The chapel has a glazed screen at the entrance, as well as one window on the north and two on the south sides. It is also used as a confessional with the aid of a folding timber screen. Just west of the chapel is the font and the south entrance. The south aisle has statues of St Joseph and Our Lady. The Stations are painted casts (1914). The church has no stained glass.

Heritage Details

Architect: Rev. Benedict Williamson

Original Date: 1908

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed