Arley - St Joseph

Spring Hill, Arley, Warwickshire CV7

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A small church of the 1990s, flexible in character and modest in architectural aspiration, its most notable feature being the Aidan McRae Thompson glass of 2005.

In 1926, Fr Hall of St Francis of Assisi, Bedworth leased this site from the local coal mine owner and built a small timber church to serve the village, which was filling with coal miners, many from the north of England. Arley was in Bedworth parish but equidistant from the parish of Our Lady of the Angels, Nuneaton and for many years, priests came here from one or other church. About 1953, Fr Cox of Nuneaton bought a slightly smaller plot of land on the other side of the road to build a presbytery – or a church if the lease fell through. Money began to be raised, but went towards improvements to the church and the building of a timber parish clubroom in 1955. Meanwhile, the National Coal Board had taken over the lease, maintaining the small annual rent. In 1962, the option of buying the church plot was considered and ultimately the diocese sold their land on the opposite side of the road and purchased the present church site.

The parish of St Anne, Camp Hill Nuneaton was established in 1949 and Arley was transferred to it in 1955. In 1996, the Rev. Michael Stack of St Anne’s engaged architect John D. Holmes of Leamington to build St Joseph’s, replacing both timber buildings. Planning permission was given for a church, meeting room and car park on 7 May 1996. The foundation stone (beside the entrance) was blessed by Archbishop Maurice Couve de Murville on 12 December 1996

St Joseph’s is orientated northeast to southwest, the altar actually facing southwest. For the purposes of this report liturgical points will be used, i.e. the altar at the east.

This small church is cruciform in plan, with steep roofs covered with concrete slates dropping down to low walls of straw coloured brick. Every seventh course is raised and there is a blue brick soldier course running around the entire building at the level of the gable bases as well as a blue brick plinth. At the apex of the four big gables with deep eaves are triangular windows; the gable facing the road also has a large raised red brick cross (the sanctuary is behind), those to the sides have doors below the windows (the main entrance on the right, the kitchen door to the left). The rear gable is plain and the roof ridges are crested. There are pairs of high level rooflights on the two right hand slopes (so facing geographical southeast).

Diocese: Birmingham

Architect: John D. Holmes

Original Date: 1996

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed