Cheam - St Christopher

Dallas Road, Cheam Village, Sutton, Surrey SM3

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The older part of St Christopher’s is a former school chapel of the 1860s, designed by a well-respected firm of architects and a good example of the institutional Gothic style of the period.   Alterations, enlargements and a refitting in the 1970s have blurred the character of the original chapel building but it is still of interest, although tightly surrounded and obscured by 20th-century residential development.

The earliest part of the present church was built in the 1860s under the auspices of the Rev. R. S. Taylor, to serve as the chapel for Cheam School.  The school moved to Newbury in Berkshire in the 1930s and the main building was demolished but the chapel was purchased by Fr Rhead, the Catholic parish priest of Sutton and opened as a Catholic place of worship in 1937. The building was enlarged in the 1970s by the addition of a new transeptal entrance and a range of single-storey parish rooms. At the same time the old building was repaired.

The 1860s chapel building is in the Gothic style and originally comprised a single cell under a tall slated roof with a canted eastern end and a small projecting western porch. To this was added in the 1970s a substantial flat-roofed transeptal projection in the middle of the south side, containing a new main entrance, and a lower range of flat-roofed buildings round the eastern end of the old chapel containing a hall and other spaces. The old chapel is of red brick with stone dressings and window tracery. The west porch has a central arched doorway and there is a wheel window in the gable above.   The side walls  of  the chapel were originally of  six bays with  wide pointed windows of two main lights with quatrefoil tracery above and with similar windows in the three sides of the canted east end. The 1970s additions are also of red brick. The transept has a stone surround to the main entrance, with stone panels to the windows on each side and a plain stone coping at the wall head.

Inside the church the main axis has been changed and the altar is placed against the centre of the north wall of the old chapel.  The window behind it has been blocked. The brick walls and the moulded stone strings and cornice have all been painted, the floor is carpeted.  The elaborate shaped and boarded timber roof with its decorative cross-beams survives unaltered.   The windows are mostly quarry-glazed with some silver-stain and coloured glass.   The new entrance transept is frankly modern in treatment,  with  bare  yellow  brick  walls  and  a  plain  flat  ceiling.    The  large  side windows are quarry-glazed with central coloured panels.

Diocese: Southwark

Original Date: 1867

Conservation Area: Yes

Modifications: 1973

Listed Grade: Not listed