1866

St Catherine’s convent established

January 1, 1866

In 1866, the Dominican Sisters of Walthamstow were sent by Archbishop Manning to undertake teaching work in the Bow area. Alfred House in Bow Road became St Catherine’s convent; adjacent to this a chapel was built for their use. The site also had a private and public school, and a large laundry facility.

Read more
1869

The foundation stone of the church laid

July 20, 1869

The foundation stone of the church was laid by Manning in 1869.

Read more
1870

Church opening

November 1, 1870

The building was later opened by him in November 1870. The architect was Gilbert Blount (1816-76), and the builder was a Mr Perry of Stratford. Original plans by Blount indicate that the church incorporated the earlier nuns’ chapel. The organ by Norman, Hill & Beard came from Holloway Prison, Islington. Blount (1819–1876) began his career as a civil engineer under Isambard Kingdom Brunel, working as superintendent of the Thames Tunnel works. Following a period of employment in the offices of Sydney Smirke, he was appointed as architect to Cardinal Wiseman, Archbishop of Westminster, working almost entirely on ecclesiastical commissions. In 1882, Blount’s pupil and assistant Alfred E Purdie (1843-1920) added a large eastern extension to form a nuns’ choir, now called the Lady Chapel, where unusually the nuns could be partially seen by the congregation. It also seems likely that Purdie created what is now the Sacred Heart chapel at the west side of the sanctuary, which was previously the nuns’ altar, visible from the eastern transept. This chapel is not present on Blount’s original plans and so is likely to…

Read more
1923

Diocese of Westminster transfer

January 1, 1923

Diocese of Westminster transfer

In 1923, the Dominican sisters departed for Stone (Staffordshire) and the church was transferred to the Diocese of Westminster. Following the departure of the nuns the convent adjoining the church became the presbytery.

Read more
1939

II World War damage and changes

September 2, 1939

During the Second World War the nave and the major part of the presbytery were bomb damaged, but services continued in those parts of the church still standing. The nave was rebuilt as a faithful reconstruction of the original, under the supervision of architect JE Sterrett and utilising Kentish ragstone, with dressings of Portland stone. Due to the scarcity of large timbers after the war, the roof beams were made from Glulam (an…

Read more
2000

A new presbytery built

January 1, 2000

A new presbytery with linking corridor was built, c2000, to the north-west of the church.

Read more