Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Greater London Authority
Greenwich (London Borough)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 42192 78629



II DATES OF MAIN PHASES, NAME OF ARCHITECT: 1848-50 by J and J S Gwilt. N vestry added. Reordered 1981 when the W part was partitioned off to create community spaces and a kitchen

MATERIALS: Dark red brick with dressings of limestone and white and grey brick. Slate roofs.

PLAN: Nave and chancel in one with a semi-circular apse for the sanctuary, N vestry, internal SE organ chamber.

EXTERIOR: The style is Italianate Romanesque. The main body of the church is nine bays long with windows in two tiers. The W bay is occupied by vestibules for access to the galleries, hence the N and S doorways. The corners of the building are emphasised by clasping buttresses enlarged into small towers which rise above the nave eaves level and terminate in pedimented cappings. The side elevations have flat pilasters marking out the bays, and, in the ground storey, large single-light windows: on the upper storey the windows are smaller and are arranged in pairs (single light in the W bay). The W façade has a central doorway flanked by a pair of small single-light windows. Above comes a row of seven lights with an enlarged central light and above these are three oculi in the gable. The church terminates at the E end with a semi-circular apse with a series of oculi below the eaves. Above the apse roof in the nave E wall is a series of stepped windows.

INTERIOR: The interior of the church has been subdivided both longitudinally and horizontally. The four W bays of the nave have been partitioned off and have been subdivided horizontally to create a community room above. The four remaining bays of the nave and choir have received a semi-circular plastered roof with the bays demarcated by flat ribs. The former galleries in the nave/choir area are now used for storage. The arcades have quatrefoil piers with moulded capitals on high bases: the arches above are semi-circular and have one step. The gallery above has stone columns which carry the roof. This is of hammerbeam construction and has deep arch-braces to the hammerbeams. There is also longitudinal arch-bracing between the bays.

PRINCIPAL FIXTURES: There is a simple font in the N aisle with a painted Greek inscription. The windows of the apse are filled with Victorian glass. Other fittings, including pews, have gone.

HISTORY: Romanesque architecture enjoyed brief popularity for church-building in the late 1830s and early 1840s until it was swept aside by the triumph of Gothic which was more or less to retain a stylistic monopoly well into the C20. There were very few Romanesque essays after 1845 so St Thomas's is an interestingly late example. It is possible that the explanation lies in the fact that they church took some time to build. An application for a grant was made in December 1845 to the Incorporated Church Building Society when the cost was estimated at £6,000 for a church to seat 800. By such a stage architects and a design were usually in place. Work begun in August 1848 and the church was consecrated on 31 July 1850. Joseph Gwilt (1784-1863) entered the office of his father in 1799 and was surveyor to the county of Surrey from 1807 to 1846. His career was based in London and he won the Royal Academy Silver Medal in 1801. By the 1840s he appears to have been working with his son John Sebastian (1811-90).

SOURCES: Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England: London 2: South, 1983, pp 247-8. Antonia Brodie et al., Directory of British Architects 1834-1914, vol 1, 2001, pp 803-4

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The church of St Thomas, Woolwich is designated at Grade II for the following principal reason: * It is an unusual example of a brick-built Italianate Romanesque Revival church from the early Victorian period. * The interior, while considerably altered, retains an impressive hammerbeam roof.


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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Date: 17 Oct 2006
Reference: IOE01/15445/15
Rights: Copyright IoE Ms Frances Ottaway. Source Historic England Archive
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