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Christ Church, Sutton

Description: Christ Church

Grade: II
Date Listed: 1 March 1974
English Heritage Building ID: 206688

OS Grid Reference: TQ2622663328
OS Grid Coordinates: 526226, 163328
Latitude/Longitude: 51.3550, -0.1886

Location: Christchurch Park, Sutton, Greater London SM2 5TU

Locality: Sutton
County: Greater London
Country: England
Postcode: SM2 5TU

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Listing Text


II 1887-8 by Newman and Jacques. 1910-12: W narthex and base of otherwise unbuilt NW tower by J Douglas Round.

MATERIALS: Red brick with limestone dressings. Red clay tiled roofs. Pierced red cresting on the nave ridge.

PLAN: Nave, N and S aisles, W narthex with projecting baptistry, NW porch (base of unbuilt tower), porch in angle of N aisle and transept, N transept, chancel with five-sided apse, S chapel, N vestry

EXTERIOR: A large and very imposing red-brick Early English-style church of the kind popular at the end of the C19. The nave is tall and long and has a clerestory with pairs of lancet windows. The lean-to aisles on the other hand have single lancet windows. The W end of the nave has a row of tall, equal-height lancets and at the corners are angle buttresses rising to octagonal pinnacles. Across the nave and aisles is a complex assemblage of single-storey structures forming, at the N end, a porch (which is the base of an intended tower) from which a corridor leads to a narthex in the centre of which is a projecting three-sided baptistry. The narthex and baptistry have crenellated parapets. Flanking the baptistry are a pair of buttresses with gable heads from which flying buttresses spring to reach the W buttresses on the nave. The NE porch has entrances on three sides. At the E end the chancel is slightly lower than the nave and terminates in a five-sided apse with a tall lancet in each bay. On the S is a large chapel. On the N is a large transept which serves to house the organ chamber and vestries. This has three narrow, graded lancets above a tier of five broad, low lancets.

INTERIOR: The grand scale of the exterior is reflected in a broad, spacious, bare brick interior. The nave is wide and is of five-bays with arcades to the aisles with double-chamfered arches with hoods and piers that alternate between round and octagonal: A round pier is placed opposite an octagonal one and vice versa: the capitals and bases are moulded. Grey stone wall-shafts rise from the valleys of the arcades, marking out the bays of the clerestory, and forming the bases for the brackets to the roof trusses. The clerestory windows also have grey stone shafts. At the E end of the nave is a large, wide chancel arch while at the W end there are three openings into the narthex, the central one being higher and wider than the others. There is also an arch from each aisle into the narthex. The S chapel is connected to the chancel and S aisle by arches. The narthex itself and the NW porch have timber vaulting ribs. The setting of the font has delightful Arts and Crafts detailing: the arch over the window has raised plasterwork with foliage trails, while the dado below is of lead and has a zig-zag vine trail set above a band of swimming fish. The roof of the nave has tie-beams with tall crown posts and has compact ogee-shaped brackets. The chancel roof has similar brackets and arch braces rising to a ridge member. The aisles have quite plain lean-to roofs. The nave and aisle floors are of wooden blocks: that in the choir is of black and white marble while the sanctuary has brown tiles. There are attractively decorated cast-iron grilles over the heating ducts running along the aisles.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: The chief feature is the impressively ornate vaulted chancel screen which has a raised centre-piece with very sumptuous tracery: this supports a crown-like structure which in turn carries a cross. The high altar reredos has three canopied bays with depictions of the Nativity and the angel appearing to the Marys at the Tomb. In the S wall of the chancel the double sedilia has a tall, slender shaft between the seats and an integral piscina, also with a shaft. On the chancel NW and SW walls are metal tablets with the Ten Commandments, Lord's Prayer and Creed. There are some fine, richly carved stalls now relocated in the N aisle. A row of choir seats also survives on the N side of the chancel backing on to a solid traceried screen with signs of the Zodiac. A good deal of pewing remains although it has been removed at the E end of the nave: it has shaped ends with large rounded elbows. The pulpit consists of delicate ironwork placed on a stone plinth. The font is much more conventional, having a simple octagonal bowl set on a ring of detached shafts and a central column. The E window stained glass dates from 1889 and that in the W window from 1902.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: To the W of the church, across a small green, is a plain church hall. S of this is the former vicarage (now flats) with three gables to its top storey. A new vicarage, built c2002, stands to the SE of the church.

HISTORY: The first church to serve the area was an iron one licensed on 13 March 1876 and lengthened six years later. It gave way to the present permanent building as the population continued to expand in the area. The foundation stone was laid on 29 June 1887 and the dedication took place on 19 May 1888. The church could accommodate 1,000 people. The builders were T. Gregory and Co. The main subsequent work, which enhances the building, was the addition of the narthex and N porch which was intended to form the base of a tall, four-storey tower of Perpendicular design. The resultant building is a particularly good example of a large, late Victorian town church built in red-brick and seeking to achieve a grand effect while using inexpensive materials

The architects: John Thomas Newman (1831-96) worked in the offices of Sir Samuel Morton Peto, and Thomas Brassey and Betts. He was resident surveyor and head of the Mechanists' Department at Victoria Docks, London, 1861-5. He began independent practice in 1865 and went into partnership with William Jacques (1853 or '54-1919), his former pupil. They were surveyors to the West Ham School Board and the Leyton School Board which led to many commissions in these areas. J D Round is an obscure architect and his work at Christ Church is the only work by him noted in the Pevsner Architectural Guides. His design for the proposed tower at Christ Church (on display at the church) shows an assured hand of some promise.

Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South, 1983, p 655.
Drawing of W end including the proposed tower (displayed in the church).
Historical notes displayed in the church.

Christ Church, Sutton is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* It is an outstanding, impressively-scaled, red-brick late Victorian town church in the Early English style.
* It has a number of fine fixtures and details of interest, notably the chancel screen and the Arts and Crafts treatment of the baptistry.
* The interior, in spite of some alterations, retains its spatial qualities and atmosphere.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.