Nuneaton - St Anne

Camp Hill Road, Chapel End, Nuneaton, Warwickshire CV10

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A successful combination of an octagonal church with a longitudinal hall and ancillary facilities on a restricted site, but most interesting for colourful and inventive Aidan McRae Thompson windows of 2002-08.

Masses started being said in the 1930s by priests from Our Lady of the Angels, Nuneaton in houses around Camp Hill and later a Miners’ Hostel. In 1946, a disused fever hospital began to be used but a Mass centre was only established in 1949. The foundation stone for a temporary timber church-school was laid on 19 February 1949 by Fr Cox and on 13 July that year Archbishop Masterson opened and blessed the building. The parish of St Anne was created in 1952 and a presbytery was built alongside the church about a year later, apparently to the design of S. N. Cooke & Partners.

The foundation stone of the present church was blessed by Rt Revd Philip Pargeter, Bishop of Valentiniana on 11 March 2000 and the church was opened and blessed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols on 11 November 2000. The Rev. Michael Stack was the parish priest and Peter Thompson is credited as the surveyor. An architect may have been involved; it is said there were disputes during building. The windows were glazed by Aidan McRae Thompson between 2002 and 2008. He also painted the seraphim with stars over the altar in 2012.

 

The church consists of a longitudinal entrance, narthex and hall running down the right hand (west) boundary (virtually repeating the 1949 timber church hall) with an embedded octagonal church to its left. The presbytery is to the right (west) and there is a large car park behind. It is built facing onto Camp Hill Road, so the entrance faces north and the altar is at the southeast corner.

St Anne’s is built of red brick laid in stretcher bond, with blue brick plinth courses and window surrounds and slate roofs. The octagon has unequal sides; the north and east long sides contain long triangular-headed lancet windows, the shorter northeast side has two of these windows, the southeast a circular window above the altar inside. The shallow pitched roofs terminate in a lead cap (possibly designed to be a base for a cross or flèche).

The glazed entrance doors fill the centre of the gable end of the longitudinal part of the building, and lead into a narthex with piety shop and WC. The church entrance is through doors in the short northwest side of the octagon on the left. Once inside, the sacristy is on the west long side and the southwest short side has doors leading to the hall beyond, with its own kitchen and WC. The roof timbers at each corner rise from the ground to cross a purlin that describes the whole octagon but they then somewhat unsatisfactorily ‘die away’ into a plain octagonal centre. Was there to be a central glazed lantern?

 

Immediately opposite the entrance is the small sanctuary, dominated by the round window behind the altar with Aidan McRae Thompson’s Holy Dove (2000) and his 2012 wall painting of the Seraphim with stars. Some of the sanctuary furniture is from the previous church. However, the interior is dominated by the strongly coloured Aidan McRae Thompson windows of 2002-08, the largest concentration of his work so far. The five lancets to the east were blessed by Bishop Pargeter on 6 September 2003 and are predominantly blue, as befits their Marian subject matter. The three north lights depict the Crucifixion in more yellow/brown tones and the two lights between have abstract depictions of Baptism and the Holy Spirit, all these blessed by Bishop Pargeter on 14 November 2010. Many small details of people, buildings (including the Twin Towers) and animals, with an occasional AMT signature, can be seen; this aspect is reminiscent of Tom Denny’s work.

Diocese: Birmingham

Architect: Peter Thompson (Surveyor)

Original Date: 2000

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed