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The First World War delayed the building of a new church and presbytery on the Primrose Road site. However, soon after the First World War, the Church was built in Grange Park Road, because the site included a large house, originally built in 1860 as a farmhouse and much expanded by 1914, suitable as a presbytery until demolished in 1999. The foundation stone of St. Joseph Church in Grange Park Road was laid on May 10, 1924, by the Rt. Rev. Arthur Doubleday, the second Bishop of Brentwood, who consecrated the church on October 23, 1930 – the first Feast of Christ the King. Father O’Neill had started fundraising in 1919 and all debt on the building was cleared by 1930. Father [later Canon] O’Neill was appointed to take charge of the mission at Leyton in July 1916. He served in Leyton for thirty-five years, being appointed Parish Priest in 1918 and dying in 1951.

Built around a steel frame, the church is a “simple brick building with stone dressings, consisting of clerestoried nave and chancel, with north and south chapels.” The architect was Ernest Bower Norris. Four of his churches are listed buildings including the monumental St Peter and St Paul, Wallasey, Merseyside (1935, grade II). The church of the Sacred Heart, North Walsham, (1934-35, grade II) is more comparable in scale to our church, but is in a ‘Scandinavian Art Deco style’.

The tower’s plinth and door surround are of stone. The west window has five lights of equal height below a tiled arch, with the top portion between the continuous mullions filled with herringbone brickwork. On either side of the window are giant pilasters with decorative brickwork with tiles above the window’s impost level. The keystone of the window’s arch is part of the corbel for a niche with a statue of St Joseph. The tower’s tapering appearance – suggesting similarities with Lutyens’s Cenotaph in Whitehall – is created by the curving screen walls of the side aisles and the narrower parapet above the entablature. The Church was built at a cost of £8000 by subscription as a peace memorial for the First World war

The interior was originally decorated in an Italianate style. The High Altar and the Stations of the Cross were installed by Peter Formelli and Italian craftsmen using fine marble. It took the parish six years to raise the money for the work and the Italian marble. In 1978 the original blue and silver floral Marian tracery was painted over, and much of the high-quality Italian marble was tragically removed, including an impressive pulpit. The base of the pulpit was salvaged by Father Hall when he became Parish Priest and now forms the altar. Only the impressive mosaic High Altar and Tabernacle remains of the original extensive Italian marble furnishing.

When the church was built an organ worthy of a cathedral was installed by Chandlers of Leyton. Filling the whole of the present choir loft, the organ required costly maintenance and a professional organist, and was sold in 1982 for £25000 to an Anglican church in Reading. The removal of the organ increased the amount of natural light in the church and revealed more readily the detailed, high-quality stained glass of the church tower.

The formidable Canon O’Neill was succeeded by Father Peter Prendergast who was Parish Priest from December 1951 to 1954. Diocesan Spiritual Director to the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP), he was a tall, kind and hospitable man, with a deep commitment to the poor and the young.

From the 1920s to the 1970s, the Corpus Christi procession started at St. Joseph Church and ended with Benediction at the Convent chapel, attended by the First Communion children and their parents. Originally part of the Westminster diocese, our parish became part of the new diocese of Brentwood in March 1917. The Brentwood diocese covers Essex, of which Leyton is historically a part. Leyton and Leytonstone became an Urban District in 1894 and a Metropolitan Borough in 1926, joining Walthamstow and Chingford as part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest in April 1965. The last Mayor of Leyton (1964-65), Terence Messenger, was a Catholic. The Parish Priest – Father Harnett – was his chaplain and an inaugural Civic Mass was celebrated at St. Joseph Church in April 1964.