EXTRACTS FROM ST HILDAS’S MAGAZINE: JULY/AUGUST 1933
St. Hilda, Crofton Park.
Notes by J. E. NEWBURY, Architect
I was consulted in 1899 by the first Vicar, the Rev. John H. Jacques, on the lay-out of the site and the design for the Parish Hall and visited it with the Vicar of Lewisham, now Bishop Hough. The ground was acquired from the Leathersellers Company, whether given or bought I do not know. My lay-out plan showed the Church on the east, the Hall at right angled to the church and the Vicarage house to the extreme west; this arrangement has been carried out.
I designed the Parish Hall to seat 310 as a temporary Church with a class room on the west and a small vestry to the east. The platform was used as the sanctuary and the choir was seated in the large hall. The flêche on the roof was designed for a large bell which was obtained from Messrs. Taylor of Loughborough and is now hung in the church belfry. The Parish Hall was dedicated by the first Bishop of Southwark (Bishop Talbot)†. The building was designed with the strictest economy and was erected by Mr. George Parker of Peckham. Until the Parish Hall was built, Church services were held in the neighbouring elementary school. The eastern classrooms next to the road were built from my design in 1924 by Messrs. George Parker & Sons and cost £872 including architects’ fees.
I designed the Church in conjunction with my former partner, Mr. F. H. Greenaway. Owing to the slope of the ground from the west to east the Chapel and Vestries were planned beneath the eastern portion of the Church. The large Parish Room was greatly needed as the Parish Hall was used for Church services only. The first Vicar therefore decided to commence the Church by building the substructure and to use it temporarily for secular purposes. The plans were accordingly prepared for what is now known as the Children’s Chapel‡ and the Vestries and this first section was built in 1905 by Messrs. Joseph Dorey and Co. Ltd of Brentford. The present Chapel formed a Hall, the internal arcades were temporarily omitted so that the Choir Vestry became the platform and the Parish Room formed part of the Hall. The whole was roofed with reinforced concrete flat – now the floor of the Chancel , Lady Chapel, Priests’ Vestry and Sacristry. This mode of construction, consisting of steel rods embedded in concrete, was then in its infancy; it is now largely used in building. The cost of the substructure was £1,758.
The remainder of the Church was built in 1907-8* whilst the Rev. C. T. Waring was Vicar. It consists of a nave 24 feet wide divided into five bays or arches, a chancel of the same width, north and south aisles 13 feet wide, a transept to the chancel on the north, now the Lady Chapel, and a low tower on the South containing the Choir Vestry below, the return way for communicants, Priests’ Vestry and Sacristry on the Church floor with the organ chamber and belfry over. The original design for this southern portion took the form of a transept surmounted by a flêche. As a result of a speech by the first Vicar in support of the South London Church Fund a generous lady promised an annual subscription which should continue until the Church was built and paid for. Largely owing to this generosity the Building Committee desired that the south transept should become a tower. The substructure was, however, already built and the architects were therefore unable to build higher than the comparatively thin walls allowed.
The external stonework of the substructure is Chilmark, the stone used for Salisbury Cathedral, but as considerable difficulty and delay occurred in obtaining it Monks Park Bath Stone was used for the remainder of the external work, treated with a preservative solution. The external brick facings came from Crowborough, Sussex and the slates from Clynderwen, South Wales. Corsham Bath Stone is used throughout the interior with yellow “washed” facing bricks. The timber of the roofs is Northern Fir. The Chancel is paved with Portland stone and green Westmoreland slate, the Sanctuary steps and paving being of Sicilian marble and green slate.
Fittings – The fittings were made from designs by the architects, the High Altar being of English Oak with a Sussex marble mensa. The Choir seats are of Canadian oak. Aluminium on oak is used for the Altar Cross, Candlesticks and Standard Lights which were made by the Artificer’s Guild. The original Dorsal behind the the Altar is of fabric designed and made by the late William Morris and is still in use. The Altar vases are of Martin ware; examples may be seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The stained glass windows at the east end of the Chancel were designed by the late Henry Holliday, a well-known pre-Raphaelite artist: they were put in in 1912 in memory of the generous lady who helped build the Church.
Albert H. Hodge, a clever sculptor who died young, executed the statue of St. Hilda in Portland stone which stands in a niche in the east gable of the Church. Examples of this artist’s work can be seen at the Town Hall, Hull, the port of London Offices and many other important buildings.
The organ was built by Messrs. Conacher & Co. of Huddersfield and was erected in 1911††.
The cost of the whole Church, including architects’ fee, but not fittings, was £10,047.
The Vicarage House was built in 1910 by Messrs. Dorey & Co. at a cost of £2,038‡‡.
The War Memorial in the Churchyard is of Cornish granite, the design being based on an ancient Celtic Cross. It was erected in 1920 and cost £345.
† The Bishop of Rochester (Southwark Diocese 1905) on 22 May 1900
‡ Crypt Chapel since 1960 named St Cyprians Chapel
* Consecrated 3 June 1908
†† Organ now defunct, although outside pipes remain
‡‡ Destroyed in World War II, rebuilt in 1951.