Barbican Imperial Protects Catholic Church in Barking

Project Overview

St Mary and St Ethelburga Church


Date Complete

Places of Worship


St Mary and St Ethelburga in Barking, is a Catholic church belonging to a parish of two churches. For over 150 years, the parish has been present in Barking and Ilford, with a diverse community of Catholics attending the churches.

The church is open every day, with morning prayer and mass happening at various times throughout the week.

In 1869, the original church designed by E.W. Pugin with large wooden spired bellcote was opened. In 1979, the old church was demolished and a low modern brick building with varied window openings, low-pitched rooves, and artificial slate replaced it. In one wall of the new church there is a large round window containing glass from a window of the earlier Pugin church on the site.

In 2002, the application to build a freestanding bell frame was approved, and subsequently, this unique feature still stands tall today and has become a famous local landmark.

In 2018, planning permission was granted for a new purpose-built Presbytery on the site next to the church, to replace the existing one. LAP Architects & Interior Designers designed the development, with the aim ‘to create a simple, well-crafted, low energy building that meets the future needs of the Parish’.

Originally, the site did not have any demarcation fencing around the front apart from some shrubs, hedges, and low brick piers between which a gate once stood. Due to the planting not being well established, the boundary did not command a presence in the street, so the church yard and car park could easily be walked through by accident or on purpose.

Stopping a passer-by from being able to walk through the grounds is a common tactic advised by local police Designing Out Crime Officers (DOCOs). It has been proven to reduce spontaneous crime, whether stopping someone picking up possessions left within the grounds, vandalism, or unpleasant tag graffiti. With the new residential building on site, a stronger boundary indicator was required. To upgrade the security and appearance of the frontage and complement the new presbytery building, demarcation fencing and gates were required.


To create a smart and elegant boundary around the church, our Barbican Imperial® fencing was installed, with a double leaf and single leaf gate for access. Barbican Imperial is ideal for providing demarcation as its appearance imitates traditional wrought iron railings but with a modern construction which upgrades security and durability. Churches are notorious targets of theft for scrap metal and the fencing is no exception. Our vertical bar railings have welded pale-through-rail construction with no visible bolts, and tamper-proof panel-to-post connectors, preventing both the individual pales and the entire panels being stolen. For protection against rust, the fencing is galvanised and has been polyester powder coated black, providing a traditional aesthetic and ensuring it looks good for years to come. With a 25 year guarantee, the black railings and gates provide a sustainable and cost effective choice for the church.

The low 1.2m high black railings create a welcoming environment and prevent the space feeling enclosed, also allowing the unique bell tower to be viewed from the road without restriction but protecting it from anyone coming into contact with the structure itself. The gates can be locked to prevent theft of vehicles in the car park.

Coincidentally in the same year, we carried out a similar fence installation for Barking Baptist Church, just 200 yards away on the same road.

Products Used


  • 1.2m high Barbican Imperial Fencing and Gates
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