St Edmund

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The original St Edmund’s church and school were built to serve the 1,000 or so Roman Catholics living on the Isle of Dogs in about 1870.

About this church

The current church is the third serving the Isle of Dogs. In 1846, St Edward’s chapel opened in Moiety Road, built by John H Fisher & Son of Stratford to designs of William Wilkinson Wardell (1823-99). The aisleless nave functioned as a schoolroom during the week, with a sliding screen separating the sanctuary. This was served from the Poplar mission. While the chapel was still standing until the 1880s, it was superseded in 1874 by St Edmund’s church.

In 1871, Archbishop Manning and others took out a ninety nine-year lease for the site in Westferry Road at an annual rent of £30. The school and clergy house were built first. A foundation stone was laid on 3 June 1872 to designs by FW Tasker. St Edmund’s church opened on 19 August 1874. Due to money saving measures, only the nave piers were placed on deep foundations, creating structural problems from the start. Piling and underpinning was necessary in 1879 and 1883. The structural problems continued into the later twentieth century when they threw the future of the building into question.

The church was eventually demolished and replaced by the current building by David Aitken, built in 1999-2000. The foundation stone, reusing material from the original foundation stone, was blessed by Cardinal Hume on 23 April 1999.

The church has a yellow and red brick exterior, laid in stretcher bond and soldier courses. The narrow windows have opaque glass, with decorative leaded lights in the sanctuary. The presbytery has a tiled pyramidal roof, while the other two arms of the building have pitched roofs. Above the sanctuary the roof sweeps up into a tower like feature. On the sanctuary wall facing the road is a statue of the church’s patron saint.

The narthex has the old and new foundation stones, as well as the sacristy and lavatories. The inside of the church is faced with yellow brick with decorative patterns of black brick. There are three glass brick windows, with pale orange glass bricks forming the letters Alpha and Omega. The font is from the predecessor church, of an octagonal stone bowl with a short marble column, and stands in the central aisle. There are statues of St Edmund and the Sacred Heart along the north side wall, with Our Lady with the Christ Child and St Joseph as carpenter on the south wall. Most of the sanctuary furnishings came from the old church, augmented by items collected by a previous parish priest. It has a modern marble lectern and a modern iron candle stand. The main altar is made from marble from the high altar of the previous church. Most of the olive coloured pews are on loan from St Mary & St Joseph, Poplar. Their design has been attributed to Adrian Gilbert Scott, architect of the church at Poplar.

Key Features

  • Captivating architecture
  • Spectacular stained glass
  • Enchanting atmosphere
  • Social heritage stories

Visitors information

  • Bus stop within 100m
  • Train station within 250m
  • Level access to the main areas
  • On street parking at church
  • Parking within 250m
  • Accessible toilets nearby
  • Café within 500m
  • Dog friendly
  • Walkers & cyclists welcome
  • Space to secure your bike

Upcoming special events at St Edmund

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