Lexden - St Theresa of Lisieux

Clairmont Road, Lexden, Colchester, Essex CO3

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A striking pre-cast concrete frame design of 1971, with a dramatic and well-lit interior, lively modulation of wall surfaces and some furnishings and artworks of note.

The first church was built in 1937 from designs by T.H.B. Scott, the builder Messrs W. A. Hills of Colchester. Dr Richard Courtauld was the benefactor. This church survives today as the parish hall, and is visible in the photo bottom right. A presbytery was added in 1955 from designs by O’Neill & Fordham of Chelmsford. The present church was built on 1970-71, from designs by J. H. Dabrowski. It was opened on 16 September 1971 and consecrated by Bishop McMahon on 10 November 1989. In 2003-04 a major scheme of repair was undertaken under the direction of the David Rackham Partnership, at a cost of £169,000.

This is a large modern church, built with a pre-cast concrete frame with a crossover roof beam system, allowing for dramatic internal effects. Within the bays created by the frame, the walling is mostly brick, with some pre-cast concrete panels, and large areas of glazing. Concrete is also used for the window mullions and surrounds. Each bay has the brickwork slightly angled or faceted, giving the design a great sense of movement and liveliness, both inside and out. The entrance façade has a large gable and projecting entrance canopy, above which is a bronze statue of the Risen Christ, by local artist Tita Madden (1977). The flank elevations are multi-gabled, a dramatic composition.

Inside, the church is a single large space, with a lobby/gallery at the entrance and a separate side chapel giving off to the left housing the Blessed Sacrament. The interior

is high, broad and light. The pre-cast concrete-frame crossover vaults, with their reference to ribbed vaulting, is Gothic in spirit. The walls in between are faced in bare brick, with large areas of glazing, while the interstices of the roof between the vaults are faced in boarded timber. At the sanctuary end are two full-height dalledeverre stained glass windows, made by the monks of Buckfast Abbey under the direction of Dom Charles Norris. There is a raised skylight over the sanctuary.

Diocese: Brentwood

Architect: J. H. Dabrowski (Pevsner)

Original Date: 1971

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed