Chelmsford - The Blessed Sacrament

Melbourne Avenue, Chelmsford, Essex CM1

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A simple but elegant concrete-framed and brick-faced church, built in the 1960s to serve a new housing estate. A proposed tower, which would have made the church more of an obvious landmark, was never built.

The original church (now the parish hall) was designed by O’Neill & Fordham and opened in 1953. It was built to serve the new Melbourne Park housing estate, which was then under construction. The present church was built in 1961-62 at a cost of £19,500 and opened on 4 April 1962. The presbytery was added in 1965. Both were designed by Henry Bingham Towner; the modern design of the church contrasts with Bingham Towner’s more traditional design at South Ockendon, built the year before.

The church was re-ordered in 1984 by Austin Winkley.

The church is a modern style building of precast concrete portal frame construction, with external walls of yellow stock brick and roof coverings of anodised aluminium sheet. The body of the building consists of a nave and sanctuary under a continuous shallow-pitched roof with multi-gabled lower side aisles and a northwest entrance lobby. A tower was intended (and apparently the foundations were provided) but was never built. The west gable wall has a plain brick centre with full-height flanking windows of timber. The entrance lobby has a glazed timber front. The side aisles have blind brick walls with glazing in the shallow cross-gables and the main walls have strip clerestories under the eaves. The east wall is blind.

Internally the building has a timber west gallery and the main space east of the gallery is divided into four bays by the main frames, with low and wide openings to the aisles. Tall slit windows lighting the sanctuary are filled with coloured German antique glass.

Diocese: Brentwood

Architect: Henry Bingham Towner

Original Date: 1962

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed