Open House Festival

Holy Cross Church, Cromer Street


Joseph Peacock, 1887

Cromer Street, WC1H 8JU

Grade ll listed Oxford Movement Anglican church built 1887-88. Historic England describe the exterior as ‘quirky and aggressive’ but the interior is ‘very spare and elegant, the proportions subtly adjusted’. Elevated choir and sanctuary.

Getting there


Euston, King's Cross St. Pancras, Russell Square


Euston, King's Cross


10, 17, 30, 45, 46, 59, 63, 73, 91, 205, 214, 259, 390, 476

Additional travel info

The Church is a 5 minute walk south of King's Cross station


Accessibility notes

There is a ramp up to the church door so easy to get in. We will show how the church crypt has been revamped to make a meeting space for community groups. There is a short staircase down, so not suitable for wheelchair users.



Holy Cross Church was designed by Joseph Peacock (1821-1893) and consecrated in1888. Its building was made possible by the Goodenough family following the death of Commodore Goodenough on the island of Santa Cruz in the Solomon Islands in 1875. A small brass plaque is placed behind the font as a memorial and the church bell was taken from the Commodore’s ship ‘HMS Pearl’.

The Church has close links with Goodenough College, an international residential college for postgraduate students in nearby Mecklenburgh Square.

Although the Church had rich benefactors, it was built in a very poor area. The catholic revival in the Church of England can be seen as part of a prevailing national Christian mission to the poor, later championed by the Salvation Army as well. As the country became more industrialised, new parishes were established in densely-populated city areas. Holy Cross was a mission station before it became a parish. There is a strong tradition of community service at Holy Cross.

Holy Cross today

The congregation is truly international, especially now that tourists have returned to London and the church has stronger links with nearby Goodenough College. We also have strong links with London's South Sudan community, as well as with our local Bangladeshi and Somali neighbours.

The Church is unusual in having a large crypt which was extensively refurbished in 2019. Part of the crypt is now being used by a drama school but the Church retains use of a substantial area for community purposes - English classes for asylum seekers, for example.

The annual Bloomsbury Festival makes extensive use of the church for both performances and rehearsals. It has very good acoustics. We would like to see the church used more as a performance venue. One of the highlights of the 2022 Bloomsbury Festival was a reunion event forty years after local prostitutes held a sit-in at the church in protest against police harassment. A film of the event will be shown on September 17 at 2pm.

Things to notice

Respected critic Ian Nairn said (in Nairn's London, 1966): 'The outside is cheap and shrugged off; there are a hundred like it in London's suburbs. Inside it is as honest and selfless as King's Cross station...Nothing unnecessary and nothing put on for form's sake...'

The braced king post roof is one of the 'great glories' of the interior, according to Historic England's listing.

The nave is exceptionally broad for its length and the aisles very wide. The elevated choir and sanctuary is enclosed by a wood screen which may be the work of Sir Charles Nicholson (1867-1949). Nicholson worked at Holy Cross around 1913.

The moveable benches are late Victorian.

A small stained glass window on the south wall, ‘Christ the Good Shepherd’, was designed and made by Martin Travers (1886-1948), a distinguished church artist in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. Christ's lamp copies the lamp in Holman Hunt's ‘Light of the World’.

The Walsingham Chapel at the back of the church is a reminder of Father Alfred Hope Patten who was inspired to restore the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham while a curate at Holy Cross from 1913-15.

The Stations of the Cross are not unique – there are identical ones in the Chapel of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in St John's Wood and perhaps in other places too. We would like to know more about their production.

Finally and sadly, you will see cracks. There is settlement of the foundations at the north east corner of the Church causing structural cracking to the vestry and associated walls of the Church itself. But the Church is on Historic England's register of buildings at risk and is working with neighbouring churches to find funding sources for repairs. A start was made this year with repairs to roof guttering but there is much more still to do, to make the building the fully-functional community asset that we all want to see.

Keep in touch

Our website will keep you in tough with events at Holy Cross. Search for Holy Cross Cromer Street.

Online presence


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