Sutton Baptist Church including the church hall and Sutton Baptist Church Sunday School
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
- Statutory Address:
- 21 Cheam Road, Sutton, SM1 1SN
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- Statutory Address:
- 21 Cheam Road, Sutton, SM1 1SN
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Greater London Authority
- Sutton (London Borough)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
Baptist church, Sunday School and church hall, 1934 by N F Cachemaille-Day of Welch, Cachemaille-Day and Lander.
Reasons for Designation
Sutton Baptist church, attached Sunday School and church hall of 1934 by N F Cachemaille-Day of Welch, Cachemaille-Day and Lander are listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* its powerful external form and massing in the continental European tradition of brick-built churches, a genre exemplified in Britain by Cachemaille-Day;
* use of a palette of high quality materials and finishes to create texture, form, symbolism and ornament;
* spatially striking and unusually laid out interior for a Baptist church, where architectural form and detail are expressed in contrasting materials;
* inclusion of a complete set of built-in church furniture and fittings, most designed by the architect, a prominent aedicular baptistery and reredos enriched with a sculpted panel, and unusual stained glass windows;
* very little altered externally and internally, the architectural hierarchy and relationship of the church, school and hall are highly visible.
* a major work and rare Nonconformist commission by a highly accomplished specialist in church architecture at the height of his career.
* with the 1860s parish Church of St Nicholas (listed at Grade II*) and Holy Trinity Methodist church of 1903 (listed at Grade II), it forms an unusually prominent group of churches and succession of church architecture.
The manor of Sutton belonged to Chertsey Abbey from before the Norman conquest to the Dissolution when it passed to a succession of mostly non-resident owners. In the C18 the village became a coaching stop on the route to the races in Epsom and then Brighton and by 1800 it was a small village sprawling up the hill from the common (now the Green) to the Cock Cross Roads. The arrival of the Sutton to Epsom railway in 1847, the Epsom Downs line (1865) and the more direct line to London via Mitcham Junction (1868) led to rapid change. Middle class development took place at Benhill and in the area around the railway station, while Newtown, east of the High Street, was more working class. The High Street shops developed quite rapidly, probably largely in the 1870s and 1880s and by 1900 Sutton was a small commuter town in the countryside beyond London. In the 1920s and 1930s the whole area was engulfed by suburban development.
The Baptist church was built in 1934 to designs by the architect N F Cachemaille Day, and is thought to be his only Noncomformist church. The Baptists’ first meeting room in Sutton was established in Carshalton Road in 1869, with a Lecture Hall following in 1873. The current church is the third to be built in the town, replacing its predecessor, built in 1883, which stood at the corner of the High Street and Hill Road until it was demolished to make way for Shinner’s enlarged department store. N F Cachemaille-Day (1896 -1976) was a prolific and highly regarded architect who specialised in ecclesiastical buildings and had a keen interest in the inter-war programme to extend the church's mission within the community and establish the church in the new suburbs. He trained at the Architectural Association and became a Fellow of the RIBA in 1935. He worked with Louis de Soissons, and as chief assistant to Goodhart-Rendel, before forming a partnership with Felix Lander and Herbert Welch. He set up independently in 1935, having established a reputation as a church architect. He produced some notable and forward thinking churches during the 1930s, including St Nicholas, Burnage, Manchester, 1931-33, for which he designed an extension in 1963 (listed Grade II*, National Heritage List for England 1219254), church of St Saviour, Eltham, 1932-3 (listed Grade II, NHLE 1212904), the church of the Epiphany, Leeds of 1936-8 (listed Grade I, NHLE 1255904) and St Michael and All Angels, Wythenshawe built in 1937 (listed Grade II*, NHLE 1271360) and its associated vicarage (listed Grade II, NHL:E 1246281). Parish buildings also included St Michael's House, 2 Elizabeth Street, City of Westminster of 1938 (listed Grade II, NHLE 1433500), built as a clubhouse for the nearby church of St Michael, Chester Square. His work at that time was influenced by northern European architectural trends, particularly here by the Gothic-expressionist churches of architects such as Dominikus Böhm, evident in the form and massing of his buildings and use of brick.
Born Eva Dorothy Allen, Julian Phelps Allan (1892-1996) changed her name from Eva to Julian when she started sculpting professionally, as she felt her work would be taken more seriously if attributed to a man. She studied at the Royal Academy Schools in the 1920s, receiving the Gold Medal in 1925, and served in the army in both World Wars, leaving with the rank of colonel. As a sculptor she made a number of works for monasteries and convents, including a monumental crucifix in Paisley, Scotland and a Madonna and Child at the Carmelite Monastery, Wetherby, North Yorkshire. In 1932 she was commissioned by Downe House School, near Newbury, West Berkshire, to create an altar relief. She also worked as a portraitist and designed Mrs Pankhurst’s tombstone in Brompton Cemetery, London. She worked from studios in both London and Edinburgh and from about 1933-38 was at 3 Pembroke Studios, LB Kensington and Chelsea (listed Grade II, NHLE 1442898).
Baptist church, Sunday School and church hall, 1934 by N F Cachemaille-Day of Welch, Cachemaille-Day and Lander in Free Gothic style.
Externally the sheer brick walls and high windows reflect Cachemaille-Day's admiration for Albi Cathedral, interpreted (with cusp-like buttresses and herringbone tile-work) through an Arts and Crafts sensibility. Internally the debt to German expressionism is more explicit, and gives the church the edge over the architects' better known Anglican churches. (Wakeling, 2017, p 226).
MATERIALS: structurally it has brick walls, reinforced concrete floors and steel truss roofs. Inside and out it is faced in greyish-red brick, laid in Flemish bond, with pantile and plain tile dressings, and has slate roofs, while internally the church is also lined in lime plaster where the brickwork is not exposed. External details, such as the canopies above the entrances, are in reinforced concrete, while window mullions are in brick. Internal fixtures and fittings in the church are in fumed oak. Ceilings in the church are lined in acoustic panels, and in the school, parlour and hall in wax-polished plaster.
External and internal features include the use of brick and tile to create form, texture and movement, as well as ornament and symbolism, particularly noticeable in the window tracery and panels below.
PLAN: the church, at the western end of the group, has a rectangular plan, and is aligned roughly north-south with the choir and baptistery at the southern end and its main entrance in the north-facing principal elevation. To the east of it is an attached two-storey school wing, with a ground-floor hall (Clifford Hall) and above it a former parlour, closing the group to the east. While it is a unified design, there is a clear architectural hierarchy, from the sheer, almost austere church exterior to the more domestic scale of the school and hall.
The church has a broad entrance lobby beneath a gallery across the northern end of the building. A wide nave defined by full-height outer arches narrows at the choir which is flanked by vestries and the organ loft. At the head of the choir, beneath the ’east’ window is the baptistry.
Set back from the church, the school is reached by a secondary entrance adjacent to the church, while the hall opens off an entrance and vestibule to the east.
EXTERIOR: the church is articulated by flaring buttress-like shafts that rise the full height of the building, the parapet obscuring the roof, and reminiscent of the soaring facades of medieval European brick churches and cathedrals.
The north, entrance front is in three canted bays, with flared shafts at the angles. The centrepiece is a pair of entrances between brick piers, beneath a moulded concrete canopy and reached by steps. Above each is a tympanum in a moulded brick architrave infilled with pantiles creating a wave pattern. Each has a pair of glazed doors in oak frames, with moulded transoms, the symbol of the Trinity perhaps echoed in the tripartite mouldings. Above is a single, three-light window with a curvilinear head and tracery, flush with the wall, as if piercing the skin, and all executed in brick. The base of the window is blind, infilled with pantiles laid in a chevron pattern, that forms an apron to the upper lights and dies away into the tympanum. The flanking bays have tall two-light windows, with curvilinear heads to the upper lights and square-headed ground floor casements, linked by blind tiled panels. Except where they have stained glass, windows throughout the church are metal-framed casements, with rectangular leaded lights with a horizontal emphasis, and are slightly recessed in concave reveals with a flat outer face flush with the surface of the wall.
The towering nave has three window bays, with a blind bay for the vestibule and gallery to the north and a single-bay choir of the same height to the south. The nave and choir windows are of three lights with curvilinear heads and tracery, flush with the wall, as on the front elevation. As elsewhere in the building, entrances to the church on the north elevation have flat, concrete canopies, here on angled brick piers, and have paired doors with horizontal sunk panels with tripartite moulded transoms. Above them are blind vertical panels in brick.
Single-storey vestries and offices wrap round the southern end of the building, and have a part-glazed panelled entrance door beneath a flat arch and paired metal-framed casements with transom lights, set back slightly in similar concave chamfered reveals beneath flat arches.
The SCHOOL is of two storeys and in six and a half bays, with the entrance in the western bay. It has a flush brick facade with a plain parapet. It has a pair of part-glazed doors with triple moulded transoms beneath a similar flat concrete canopy. Windows, as in the church are two-light metal-framed casements with rectangular leaded lights, with top-hung transom lights, recessed in chamfered reveals beneath flat brick arches.
The taller HALL and PARLOUR range has a pitched roof aligned east-west over the vestibule and parlour and lower pitched roofed hall extending to the south. The principal north elevation, that closed the ensemble, is in three symmetrical bays articulated by full-height splayed buttress shafts as on the church. The central entrance has a pair of part-glazed doors, as elsewhere, beneath a flat tripartite moulded concrete canopy, with a glazed fanlight above it, fitted with leaded glazed lights. Windows are metal-framed, of two lights with curvilinear heads and tracery to the upper sections as on the church, and square headed casements in ground floor windows. Each has a blind panel of herringbone bone pattern tile, that forms an apron to the upper lights, and in the central window dies away into the fanlight.
The eastern side elevation and rear elevations are consistently treated in the same way retaining their original fenestration and doors. INTERIOR: The interior of the CHURCH is an impressive space by comparison with any of Cachemaille-Day's inter-war churches, and certainly for a Nonconformist church of this period. The nave is a wide inclusive space where sculptural form is modulated by the setting of the windows within the arches and the modelled window tracery, and shafts supporting the uplighters. It culminates in the dramatic baptistery and its aedicular reredos and east window. Also unusual, features associated with the Anglican church, such as the design and position of the pulpit, are applied to a Nonconformist church, which with its range of high quality fixtures and fittings give it added resonance and rarity.
The lofty interior is defined by full-height pointed arches in moulded brick which frame the door and window bays, and, offset on each side, frame the arch at the entrance to the choir. Nave windows are recessed in splayed reveals and are also in brick with brick tracery; between each bay is an angular moulded brick shaft, mounted on the wall, carrying a plaster niche containing an uplighter. The nave has a brick dado in Flemish bond, to cill height, above which walls are lined in plaster, with a timber cornice picked out in a chevron pattern, originally painted green blue and black. The ceiling has a shallow pitched profile, rising to a peak in the centre, and is lined in individual lozenge-shaped acoustic panels, painted grey, with a narrow fillet, originally painted pink, between each panel. The gallery has a plain, painted masonry front panel, supported on the curved walls below. It has raked timber seating, some with individual bible boxes. It is reached by masonry stairs with windows with wide brick reveals; some original light fittings remain in place. In the choir, ribs, picked out in colour, spring between the arches and meet at the apex of the roof, which is also lined in wall-board panels. The church interior, vestries and offices have single and paired doors, either with solid panels, such as those leading to the vestries, or in the public areas with glazed panels, arranged horizontally with moulded transoms as on the external doors.
The choir is approached by shallow stone or polished concrete steps, and lined with oak seats with solid front panels, arranged collegiately. These frame further steps which lead to the baptistery. Lined in Hopton Wood stone, it has steps at either side, with a shallow pool on a platform behind each for the minister's assistants, and a chrome balustrade. To each side is a door opening on to the rear corridor. The reredos is in brick with twisted outer columns and a tiled canopy, and encloses a Hopton Wood stone panel with a sculpted medallion by Julian Phelps Allan, depicting the Baptism of the Ethiopian Official (Acts, 8). Below it is inscribed GO YE THEREFORE AND TEACH/ALL NATIONS BAPTIZING THEM /IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER/AND OF THE SON AND OF THE/HOLY GHOST. MATT 25.19
Above it the south-facing ‘east’ window has stained glass of 1934 by Christopher Webb, who regularly collaborated with Cachemaille-Day, providing stained glass, murals and other fittings from the mid-1930s to the early 1960s. It depicts scenes from Pilgrim’s Progress, unusually for a Baptist church telling a story. The west-facing ‘south’ nave window of 1949, by Miss D Marion Grant and designed as a war memorial window, depicts the Apocalypse.
The church has a complete set of oak fixtures and fittings, predominantly designed by Cachemaille-Day. Set into the base of the eastern pier, and therefore off the central axis of the church, the pulpit has a facetted brick base echoing the external treatment of the church, supporting an oak superstructure with splayed panels; above it is a separate circular canopy with a fluted edge. In the centre of the church is a freestanding Deacons' bench, arranged in an arc, and the freestanding table, both by Albert Cole, Master Carpenter. To the right is a freestanding lectern, also in oak. In the nave, oak bench pews are arranged to each side of a central aisle; a few of the rear seats have been removed. The nave has parquet floors.
Two stone plaques in the vestibule record the laying of foundation stones on 3rd March 1934, by the President of the London Baptist Association, Seymour J Price Esq and on behalf of the church and congregation, by the Minister, the Rev H V Larcombe BA BD.
THE SCHOOL: the same palette of forms and materials is used, in simplified form, in the school and hall. Windows have brick reveals and mullions and those in the former parlour are recessed in plain pointed rear arches. Metal-framed leaded casements have brass handles and furniture. Original doors are panelled and glazed, as in the church and in stepped, moulded architraves. The former parlour has a flat panelled ceiling. The eastern window has stained glass, installed in 1955, representing Jesus’ compassion towards children and in thanksgiving for 21 years’ work of the children’s church.
THE HALL has full height windows to each side beneath a moulded cornice and paired panelled doors to each side and at the northern end, in stepped architraves. It has an inter-war proscenium arch and stage, with steps on the curve to each side, against a brick dado with fluted plaster panelling above, a moulded canopy and panelled ceiling. The hall ceiling is in wax-polished plaster with panels in a yellow-brown and chestnut colour, arranged in a geometric pattern. Inserted in it are circular ceiling lights, thought to be original. In the vestibule is an inscribed stone panel laid by the superintendent of the Sunday School, E S Gibson Esq, on 3rd March 1934.
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Books and journals
Wakeling, Christopher (Author), Chapels of England - Buildings of Protestant Nonconformity, (2017)
'Sutton Baptist Church and Sunday School' in Architects' Journal , (October 4, 1934), 486-489
'New Baptist Church, Sutton' in The Architect and Building News , (October 5, 1934), 8-11
Miss Julian Phelps Allan, in Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britian and Ireland 1851-1951 , accessed 2 January 2018 from http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk/view/person.php?id=msib6_1202748987&search
HV Molesworth Roberts, Sutton Baptist Church, An Architectural History
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
The listed building(s) is/are shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.
End of official listing