Refurbishment works and a new entrance have been completed and blessed at a historic church in Romford.

The entrance, that looks like it could be an old Gothic doorway, was blessed at St Edward the Confessor RC Church in Romford along with a refurbished old parish school building after 25 years of planning.

The church was packed for this latest milestone with a ceremony on Friday, May 31 followed by a Mass by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Brentwood Alan Williams.

The bishop drew attention to the balance of the old and new “with the sacred space complemented by the social space” being used as a meeting place for the town.

St Edward’s newly-extended step-free entrance was built in a style to blend with the older buildings on the site.  

The parish school built in 1889 has also been refurbished as a centre used by the Cubs, Scouts, Brownies, a Golden Club for the over 55s, a knit’n’natter group and a parent and toddler group.

Shining Starz pre-school, children’s drama and art classes, St Vincent de Paul Society, Legion of Mary and Romford’s Alcoholics Anonymous group also make it their own.

“We hope to become ever more of a powerhouse of grace for the town,” parish priest Fr Dominic Howarth said. “It’s for all who want to be part of anything on offer here or suggest new ways we can help and serve.”

The centre has a meeting room dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes and its hall is dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham, a pious Anglo-Saxon noblewoman in 1061 whose village in Norfolk later became a shrine and place of pilgrimage.

St Edward’s, now with its step-free wheelchair access, is in use almost every day from 7.30am to 10pm. The church itself was built in 1856 to serve just a handful of families in Romford in what is now a Grade II-listed building.

Its new entrance has been designed and built to blend with the historic church stonework and interior, its original roof beams uncovered in the process.

The early English style was seen as diplomatic for a new Catholic church in the 19th century in the shadow of an Anglican church with the same dedication to the Saxon king Edward the Confessor.