RC Church of St Mary and St Joseph, Poplar, London

Adrian Gilbert Scott
Date Built
1951 - 1954
Lansbury Estate, Poplar
This Grade II Listed Church on the corner of Upper North Street and Canton Street in Poplar was designed by Adrian Gilbert Scott as part of the "Living Architecture" project, associated with the Festival of Britain.  The nearby Crisp Street Market, by Fredrick Gibberd, and the Lansbury Estate were also part of that project. 

The description of the building at the time of its listing says that it is constructed of, "... 2" Leicestershire brick ... with concrete vaulting, while short concrete spire is carried on steel plate girders over 18m long. This has a copper roof, the lower roofs with Lombardic tiles. Greek cross plan with central lantern ... The style of the church is inspired by its camel vaulted arches, a motif inspired by older brother Giles's unbuilt designs for Coventry Cathedral made in 1945 and derived from ancient Persia ... It has also been described as `Jazz Moderne Byzantine'"

"Regarded as old fashioned when it was built, SS Mary and Joseph can now be appreciated for the handsome quality of its workmanship, materials and design. Its massing is among the most ambitious and satisfying of any post-war church, and it is now recognised as Adrian Scott's finest church designed independently of his brother."


Across Canton Street from the church is "Church Green" a public garden space that contains a number of references to the history of the area. 

A crucifix stands in the corner of the garden to commemorate the fact that this was the site of the original church that sat on this spot for 90 years until it was destroyed by bombing in December of 1940.

In 1951, while work was underway across the road to build the new church, the Archbishop of Westminster was laying the foundation stone of a new school on the site of the old church.  It was originally called the "Cardinal Griffin School".

Circa 1991 the name changed to The Blessed John Roche Catholic School
.  However, in 2005 the school closed and the land on which it stood was sold to finance the redevelopment of the nearby Bishop Challoner School.  After the old school buildings were cleared, a housing development was built but this corner of the site was left as a public space and memorial to its history.

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