Our wonderful Parish Centre

The Parish Centre was originally the parish school, first built in 1889. In 2023-2024 it was very significantly refurbished and extended, in ways that are sensitive to the original building – the exposed beams you can now see in the pictures are the original school beams, that have supported the roof for over 130 years. At the same time, we have used modern techniques and insights, most especially in line with Pope Francis great letter on Care for the Earth and Care for the Poor, Laudato Si’. The building is well insulated, and has solar panels, as well as air source heat pumps. The whole site has step free access. There is a covered rack for cycles. Read more about the building project here.

To complete our £2million fundraising for the whole project – which also included significant work on the church – we need a final £300,000. To help fund the project, by regular or one-off donation, please click here. This will give you information not only for online donations, but also if you want to donate by cash, cheque, or bank transfer.

Perhaps £300,000 sounds impossible!? It is 300 people giving £1,000 – or, to put it another way, 300 people giving £20 a week for one year. Could that be you? Thank you for anything that you can give, helping our amazing church and community to develop and thrive for decades to come.

The Parish Centre includes the large Walsingham Hall, seating up to 100 people, and the Lourdes Room, seating 14-18 people. To read more about the choice of names, scroll down the page.

The Walsingham Hall has a kitchen, and the Lourdes Room a kitchenette, meaning the spaces can be used independently; noise does not travel from one to the other. The modern toilets, which include a fully accessible toilet and a baby change area, are located so as to serve both parts of the Parish Centre.

The car park has 18 spaces, and access from the car park and across the whole Parish Centre (and the church) is step free.

Enquiries are very welcome from those who wish to hire the Walsingham Hall or Lourdes Room on a regular basis. We especially welcome enquiries from groups that benefit the community, including charitable groups, for whom we offer a different hire rate. We do not hire the hall for parties or wedding receptions, or for any other one off hires except for charitable use. To make an enquiry please contact the Hall Manager, Jenny, by emailing romfordhall@brcdt.org or phone the parish office. Please note that the Parish Centre is already well used by groups from the parish and across the community. This means that there is currently limited space for some evening hire and weekend hire in both areas, and some Monday to Friday daytime availability in the Lourdes Room.

The naming of the Walsingham Hall and Lourdes Room

Just before Christmas 2023 parishioners were asked to nominate names for the new hall and meeting room. There were some excellent nominations. After conversation at the Parish Council, these are the names that were chosen, with the reasons why.

The parish hall is named after Our Lady of Walsingham. Since 1934 there has been a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham (pictured) in the side chapel of our church. This statue of Mary with Jesus is full of symbolism, such as the seven rings for the seven Sacraments of the Church, and the fact that Mary points to Jesus.

But how does Walsingham link to Romford?! Walsingham has been a major focus for pilgrimage in England, dating back to 1061. This date is very significant, because the Shrine was founded when St Edward the Confessor was on the throne as King of England (1042-1066). One of the symbols in the statue is that Mary wears a Saxon crown – that is, the same style of crown as Edward wore as King. Near to Romford is Havering-Atte-Bower, one of the places where Edward had a country home. Indeed it is very likely that Edward would have passed through Romford on his way to Walsingham.

Naming the room after Our Lady of Walsingham also links us with the Bishop of Brentwood who blessed and dedicated the Parish Centre on the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady, 31st May 2024, Rt Rev Alan Williams, sm. Bishop Alan is a Marist Father – that means, from a religious order dedicated to Our Lady. He was Rector of the Shrine of Walsingham from 2008-2014, before he became Bishop of Brentwood.  

Finally, Walsingham has a special link for young people. Since 1964 Walsingham House has offered retreats for young people, and since 2018 Walsingham House has been located very close to here, at Abbotswick, Navestock, just twenty minutes away.

We hope all of this amazing history – local and national, stretching back nearly 1,000 years – inspires everyone using the Walsingham Hall. 

The Lourdes Room is named after Our Lady of Lourdes. For many years there has been a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in the little garden in front of the church. It is a place where people stop and pray; sometimes for a moment on their way to work or to school, or sometimes staying longer in the garden as a place of stillness, prayer and peace in the heart of Romford.

The dedication of the room to Our Lady of Lourdes links it with the parish hall, dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham. Like Walsingham, Lourdes is a place of pilgrimage, and – as well as the statue in the garden – Lourdes is linked to our parish in different ways. We are part of the Diocese of Brentwood, and Our Lady of Lourdes is a co-patron of the Diocese. Lourdes is known as a place where everyone is welcome – especially those who are ill, frail, or on the margins in whatever way. We hope that our parish welcomes everyone – and many of the groups that meet in this room are dedicated to helping people in need.

Over the decades, many parishioners have visited Lourdes on pilgrimage. This includes many young people, because Lourdes is also a place of service, with younger people assisting those who need help to move around due to frailty or limited mobility. This room will also be a place of service, as groups meet to plan how to help others, here in Romford.

Finally, Lourdes has a special place in the lives and hearts of Fr Kevin, Fr Tom and Fr Dominic – the priests who helped bring the building works in Romford to fruition from 2000 – 2024. It also links us with the Bishop of Brentwood who blessed and dedicated the Parish Centre on the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady, 31st May 2024, Rt Rev Alan Williams, sm. Bishop Alan is a Marist Father – that means, from a religious order dedicated to Our Lady.