History

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In 1936 Fr James Malone of Crayford built a temporary church at Bostall Park, Bexleyheath, one of three he built in the area. In August 1938 the first resident priest, Fr Owen McManus arrived. He lived at St Joseph’s Convent, Woolwich Road, Abbey Wood. The first proposals for a permanent church date from the early 1940s and the church was built in the early 1950s. It cost £11,000 and was formally opened at the Christmas midnight Mass, 1951. A painting in the porch, which was painted and presented by the architect, is signed ‘Glover’, possibly C. W. Glover & Partners. In 1954 nos. 375 and 377 Long Lane, two semi-detached houses, were acquired for use as a presbytery.

Between June 1979 and June 1980 architects Weal & Pozzoni Partnership built a presbytery within the grounds of the church, as well as a parish hall. The contractor was Greenan Contractors Ltd. At the same time, a school was built. In 1985 the sanctuary was reordered, and a larger porch added. The church was consecrated on 21 July 2000.

Architecture

The church was built in 1951. In 1985, the porch was added. The church was built using reinforced concrete portal frames, with red-brown bricks, laid in Flemish bond above a dado area of stretcher bond. The plan is rectangular with an apsed east end and a southeast Lady Chapel. The west front consists of the original gabled west elevation, and the porch of 1985. The pitched roof of the central part of the porch has flat roof extensions on either side, with brick kneelers echoing those on the main gable. There is a glazed pediment above the doorway, flanked by pairs of pointed windows. The west facade above has one large window, with two pairs of windows on either side.

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A plain portal-framed structure of the 1950s, with later additions.

The porch houses a repository, as well as a large copy of Tintoretto’s mural of the Crucifixion in the Scuola di San Rocco, Venice, which, according to a plaque, was painted and presented by the architect. It is signed ‘Glover’. The nave is divided into six bays by the portal frames. A gilded plaster dado rail appears to be a later addition. The west window shows St Thomas More and the Tower of London. Two straight- headed windows to the porch would have originally continued the pointed windows above. The north side has several doors, including an alternative entrance and connections to the hall and sacristy.

 

The Stations are large unframed reliefs. The five-sided sanctuary is lit by two windows in the outer bays. A carved timber crucifix hangs above the tabernacle stand. The latter  is of  white marble with  an elaborately decorated metal door, and the inscription ‘sanguis martyrum semen ecclesiae’. The lectern and altar are of the same marble, with coloured marble panels on the altar frontal. A piscina is set into the wall to the right of the tabernacle. On either side of the sanctuary are statues of St Thomas More and the Sacred Heart. The Lady Chapel has a flat, panelled ceiling and a canted shallow recess at the east. A plain timber altar with tabernacle stands in the recess, with a statue of the Virgin with Child above. To the left is the octagonal stone font. The chapel is lit by four windows to the south, and two to the west.