In 1938 Mass was first said in Collier Row at the British Legion Hall by the late Canon Martin Horkan, then an assistant priest at St Edward’s, Romford. During the war the hall was requisitioned by the army and so Mass was celebrated from that time at the Bell and Gate Public House.
In 1952 Bishop Beck gave permission to build the Parish Hall in Lowshoe Lane and Mass was said there for the first time on 10 May 1953. The first baptism took place on 12 May 1953. The Hall served as church, school and social centre.
Bishop Beck formally blessed and opened the Parish Hall on 14 December 1953. Collier Row was erected as an independent parish the following day and Father Michael Hopkins appointed as the first parish priest. He was responsible for building the presbytery, school and church.
The foundation stone, which can be seen on the left-hand side of the Sanctuary, was laid on 6 December 1964 by the then Bishop of Brentwood, the Right Reverend Bernard Patrick Wall, DD. The church was opened on 28 November 1965.
The church and parish are dedicated to the mystery of the Eucharist: Corpus Christi, the Body of Christ. The Titular Feast is now celebrated on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday: the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
The design of the church is a free modern interpretation of Italian Romanesque architecture.
The nave and sanctuary form the main body of the church and are flanked by brick colonnades, each supporting seven brick arches and are lighted at high level with bull’s eye windows, one window above each arch. The ceiling is a segmental arched vault with encased beams dividing the ceiling into panels, each beam spanning between a pair of brick columns, providing a clear span over the Nave and Sanctuary of 35 feet.
The Nave, which has a seating capacity of 450, is 70 feet long and the Sanctuary is 26 feet. Beyond this length the Reredos wall of the Sanctuary is recessed a further 4.5 feet to create a shallow Apse.
The Sanctuary and Narthex are paved in terrazzo.
The Nave colonnades open out into the side Aisles which have flat ceilings with arched openings and pilasters corresponding to each brick column.
The Chapel of Our Lady is situated adjacent to the Sanctuary and Nave and can be seen through two of the brick arches. The Chapel measures 28 feet by 15 feet, has a seating capacity of thirty and is lighted with four semi-circular headed windows.
The spacious Narthex is linked to a secondary Porch with wheelchair access. An open glazed screen gives a fine view of the interior of the church from the Narthex.
The facing bricks used for the internal walls are hand-made light red bricks. Externally the church is faced with golden brown facing bricks and the roof covered with sand faced pantiles. A striking feature of the façade is the central doorway with a pair of polished hardwood panelled doors set in a stone surround with a mosaic panel in the pediment, all set in a tall arched recess in the gable wall.
The church was consecrated by Bishop Patrick Casey on 6 December 1979, just fifteen years after the laying of the foundation stone.
1952 - 1973 Father Michael Hopkins (Parish Priest from 1953)
1973 - 1977 Father Joseph Burns
1977 - 2011 Father Sean F Sheils
2011 - Father Philip Denton
The parish has also been served by the following assistant priests:
1959 - 1964 Father William Leenane
1964 - 1966 Father Thomas Crowe
1966 - 1967 Father Cornelius Joyce
1967 - 1968 Father Gerard Hughes
1968 - 1971 Father David Logue
1973 - 1977 Father Patrick Sammon
1976 - 1977 Father Seamus Farrell (Birmingham)
1977 - 1980 Father Philip Smith
1980 - 1983 Father Maurice Gordon
1983 - 1984 Father Rodney Nelson (Dundee, South Africa)
1984 Father Denis Canny CSsR