Building » Wanstead – Our Lady of Lourdes

Wanstead – Our Lady of Lourdes

Cambridge Park, Wanstead, London E11

A late Gothic Revival church of 1927-28 by Geoffrey Raymond of Scoles & Raymond. The aisles were added in 1934 and 1940. The church has lost  almost  all  of  its historic furnishings to modern reordering, but these have been replaced by modern furnishings of high quality by Michael Clarke, Mark Cazalet and others.

A  temporary church in a former  Methodist  church in Hall Road was opened on Christmas Day 1910, by Fr William O’Grady, parish priest of St George’s, Walthamstow (later first Vicar General for the Diocese of Brentwood). From 1918-28 Mass was said in the converted stables of St Joseph’s Convent, Cambridge Park. The parish was erected in 1919 and the first parish priest, Fr Basil Booker, bought for £1,750 a market garden in Cambridge Park as a site for a permanent church.

Work on the foundations started in May 1927, with the foundation stone being laid by Bishop Doubleday on 28 July that year. The nave and sanctuary were dedicated by the Bishop on 13 October 1928 and formally opened the following day. The cost of the entire  building  (including  the  later  aisles)  was  over  £15,000.  The  builders  were Messrs Heath of Chelsea, the architect Geoffrey Raymond (nephew of the architect-priest Canon Alexander  Joseph Cory Scoles). The  design has  similarities with Raymond’s slightly earlier church of the Assumption of Our Lady at Maldon. The altar, a gift by Eustace Booker (father of the parish priest and an ecclesiastical artist and stained glass designer) was consecrated in March 1929. The Stations, which were painted by Booker, were blessed soon afterwards (they have since been replaced).

In 1931 the presbytery was completed, followed by the addition of the liturgical north aisle in 1934 and the south aisle in 1940. (Apparently, a southwest tower was planned but never executed.) Until the building of the primary school in 1961, the servers’ sacristy was used as school room and meeting room. A reordering of 1972 included the installation of a new nave altar and ambo. For the Golden Jubilee in 1978 the church was redecorated and the side chapels (then the Lady Chapel and the Sacred Heart chapel) redesigned by Burles Newton & Partners. The original Lady altar was moved to St Mary and St Ethelburga, Barking.

In 2002 the Pastoral Centre next to the church was opened. In the same year a new font was installed at the  west end. In 2004-5,  the architects Richard Hurley & Associates oversaw another reordering, with a new sanctuary floor and  furnishings by the Irish sculptor Thomas Glendon. In 2008, the bronze crucifix was installed, followed by a new organ by Robin Jennings in 2010. In 2017 a fine new set of fifteen Stations of the Cross was installed, carved by David John and painted by his wife Marianne.


The east end of the church actually faces northwest. This description uses the conventional liturgical orientation.

Stylistically, the church is Perpendicular Gothic. The church was built using red brick laid in Flemish bond with stone dressings and a tiled roof. The plan is longitudinal with an aisled nave (which is one bay longer to the east than the side chapels) with short transeptal west porches. The central part of the tripartite west front is framed by buttresses and dominated by the large five-light window with panel tracery. Below the gable cross is an empty niche with a stone string course at corbel level. The pointed west door has a rectangular stone frame with trefoils in the spandrels. On either side are cusped single-light windows whose labels are continuous with that of the door. The west face of the north porch has a twin window; that of the south porch has a low, five-sided baptistery projection with three windows.

The side porches have twin windows above the doors on their north and south faces, respectively. The south door is linked by a roof to the Pastoral Centre. The north elevation  has  four  regular  three-light  nave  windows at the west, followed  by  a windowless bay with a small confessional projection, two windows of different sizes to the side chapel and one chancel side window.

The narthex has the stairs to the organ gallery, two three-light windows into the nave between three doors. The former baptistery is closed by a timber partition and now serves as a repository. The organ gallery with the 2010 organ by Robin Jennings is two bays deep. The five-bay nave has an open hammerbeam roof which is panelled above the collar beam. The tall stone arcade has dying pointed arches on pillars with attached shafts on the east and west sides. Despite the absence of a clerestory, the interior is well-lit. At the west end of the nave is the large font of 2002 (also used as holy water stoup), with an octagonal bowl of both polished and hand-chiselled Balmoral red granite on a stem of alternating chiselled layers of the same granite and Portland stone. This is placed on a marble and granite floor, forming a cross within two squares.

A raised floor of Portuguese limestone with some marble and pink granite inserts extends across the sanctuary and the two side chapels. The Blessed Sacrament chapel at the northeast has a silver and enamel tabernacle on a stone pedestal carved by Thomas Glendon and depicting the tree of life. Above hangs an icon of the Trinity by Sister Petra Clare, a Benedictine nun, which includes scientific references including e=mc2. The sanctuary lamp is, unusually, not a pendant light but stands on the steps in front of the tabernacle and is of a similar design as the paschal candle stand and other candle stands, with symbolic flames of brass.

Beyond the chancel arch, the sanctuary has a pointed barrel vault of three bays. The monolithic altar of Portland stone and a lectern are both of Portland stone, carved by Thomas Glendon. The bronze resurrection crucifix is by Imogen Stuart, 2008. The timber chair stands in front of a timber screen. Behind is the original reredos of 1929, in stone and marble with elaborate tracery. In the niches on either side of a tall canopied niche are small statues of saints: St Aloysius of Gonzaga, St Helena, St Basil, St Edmund of Canterbury, St Thomas More and St Theresa of Lisieux. To the south of the reredos is a piscina. The base of a pillar at the southeast includes the foundation stone, carved simply with a small cross and the year in Roman numerals.

The Lady Chapel at the southeast has a statue of Our Lady with Christ as a boy of 12 years old, by Michael Clarke (1978) on a pedestal by Thomas Glendon (2004-05). The sculpture is surrounded by seven small circular paintings of Marian scenes by Mark Cazalet. At the west end of the south aisle stands the statue of the Sacred Heart which used to stand in the former Sacred Heart chapel; together with the reredos this is one of the few surviving historic furnishings. The windows have clear glass, apart from two in the north chapel and one in the south chapel with modern abstract stained glass.

Entry amended by AHP 02.09.2023

Heritage Details

Architect: Scoles & Raymond

Original Date: 1927

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed