Bath - St Peter and Paul

Entry Hill, Combe Down, Bath, Somerset, BA2

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A small church of modest architectural pretensions, built on a square plan about the time of the Second Vatican Council. It occupies the area in front of the late eighteenth-century presbytery, and lies within the City of Bath World Heritage Site. 

Between 1820 and 1837, Mass was said at Midford House, the home of the Parfitt family. From 1837 to 1901, the chapel at Midford Castle was used. Chaplains came from Downside Abbey (up to 1841) and then from Prior Park. The mission at Midford closed in 1901 when the house was sold. The parish was re-founded in 1919, using the chapel at Prior Park. In the post-war period, the development of housing estates in the area made the construction of a new church feasible. In 1954, the presbytery was acquired by the Diocese for £2,640 and the same year, the architects Whitmarsh-Everiss & Smithies prepared initial designs (unexecuted). The present church was opened by Canon Hughes on 17 September 1965, reputedly the first church in the diocese to be opened after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council (figure 1). It was built in six months and cost £20,000. The architect was Martin Fisher and the contractors were F. J. Amery & Son. A planned spire or fleche was not built. The church was consecrated by Bishop Alexander on 1 June 1976. Recently, the sanctuary was reordered and an extension containing a confessional and sacristy added.

The church is square on plan, with the sanctuary in the northeast corner. The following description follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar was at the east.

The walls are of concrete blocks faced in Bath stone bricks, with concrete buttresses between windows to the southwest and northwest. The tiled roof with skylight over the sanctuary is supported on stressed plywood girders. The plan is square with a monopitch roof with skylight over the sanctuary. Attached to the northeast is a small meeting room under a pitched roof. There are two entrance doors on either side of the west corner. Beside the northwest door is a sculpture of Saints Peter and Paul by Julian Everard.

The interior has not been inspected. Accounts at the time of the opening refer to the stressed plywood V-frame roof structure coming down to the low eaves on two sides. The original altar and font were of Box-Ground stone. The original sanctuary arrangement had the tabernacle set against the north wall of the sanctuary. Furnishings include a crucifix comprising a nineteenth-century Bavarian corpus on a modern ash cross and two limewood bas-reliefs by Peter Watts depicting Passover and the Last Supper. The original baptistery was located near the west entrance.

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: Martin Fisher

Original Date: 1965

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed