Building » Warley – Holy Cross and All Saints

Warley – Holy Cross and All Saints

Warley Hill, Great Warley, Essex CM13

A small but unexpectedly rich stone-built church in transitional Romanesque-Early Gothic style, built for the soldiers at Warley barracks. The church was largely financed by Countess Tasker of Middleton Hall, Brentwood, and the architect was her cousin, Francis W. Tasker. 

A mission with resident priest was established at Warley in 1881, primarily to serve the needs of Catholic soldiers based at Warley barracks. Francis Campbell of Mountnessing gave £730 towards the purchase of the site, which included Primula Villa, an existing house of 1857, which became the priest’s house. The foundation stone for the church was laid by Cardinal Manning on 20 April 1881, and the completed building opened by the Cardinal on 12 October in the same year. The cost was £3,986, of which £2,430 was given by Countess Helen Tasker of Middleton Hall, Brentwood. Other donors included Frederick and Ellen Willmott of Warley Place, who gave £276 towards the cost of the Thomas Earp altar and reredos and the original stained glass windows in the sanctuary. Canon Kyne of Brentwood paid for the bell turret (£205). The church was designed by F. W. Tasker, cousin of the principal donor, and built by Lathey Bros of Battersea Park, London. The designs were illustrated in The Builder. These show a church consisting of nave and south aisle with south porch, and with a sacristy extending east of the Lady Chapel at the east end. The perspective of the sanctuary shows a tunnel vault (with ribbed vaults over the high altar only), and a high degree of enrichment of the walls.

As built, the extending sacristy was omitted, and the church retains to this day a somewhat cramped sacristy giving off the north side of the sanctuary. The south porch, shown on the drawings, was added in 1884. In 1888 a north aisle and the front boundary wall were added, with donations from Frederick Willmott. Miss Ellen Willmott paid for the furnishing of the Lady Chapel.

The mission became an independent parish in August 1918, and the church was consecrated in July 1919. The church suffered wartime damaged in late 1944, when the glass was blown out; it reopened in October 1945. In 1986 new stained glass was installed in the sanctuary, from designs by John Lawson of Goddard & Gibbs.

The church has been served from Brentwood Cathedral since 1994.


The building is described in the list entry, below. Other points to note:

  • The church contains a number of bench types for the congregational seating, some modern but others probably original, with scrolled ends
  • The nineteenth-century pipe organ at the east end of the north aisle is by Michell and Thynne of London
  • At the back of the church wall monuments include a wooden Gothic board listing the parish priests and requesting prayers for the soul of the donor, Countess Tasker
  • There is also a brass monument to Irish Guards killed in the 1914-18 war
  • Outside, there is a larger marble war memorial tablet set into the return wall of the Lady Chapel
  • The nave and aisles have ‘Gregory’s woodblock floor’ (The Builder)

List description


Roman Catholic mission church. 1881. By FW Tasker. Extended 1886. Rock-faced Kentish ragstone with Lancaster stone dressings. Slate roofs with coped gable ends. Plan: Nave, chancel with bell-turret on SE corner and with Lady Chapel on S side, the chapel on N side of chancel now contains the organ; N and S aisles, the N aisle added in 1886; south porch. Early English style. EXTERIOR: the east end has 2 lancets and buttresses, the centre buttress with Crucifixion above with canopy and quatrefoil in gable; on left (SE) corner a circular turret with arcaded belfry and short conical spire, all in ashlar. Lower gable-ended roofs to N and S chapels, the Lady Chapel on S has double span roof. Small lancets in lean-to aisles, without clerestorey windows; the S aisle has gabled porch, the N has integral vestry with small gabled dormer and chimney-stack. Large rose window in W gable. INTERIOR: 3-bay arcades, without capitals, the double chamfers dying into piers. Arched brace nave roof supported on long corbelled colonnettes. Similar colonnettes to stone ribs of chancel vault. Romanesque arcading around chancel. Carved stone reredos and altar by Thomas Earp, the altar with carved relief of Last Supper has been moved forward. Stained glass E windows of 1986 by J Lawson of Goddard and Gibbs. Built as a mission church for the RC soldiers of Warley barracks and donated by Countess Tasker.

Listing NGR: TQ5897091885

Heritage Details

Architect: F. W. Tasker

Original Date: 1881

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II