Batheaston - The Good Shepherd

Lower Northend, Batheaston, Bath, Somerset, BA1

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A post-Vatican II church on a square plan, perhaps the most satisfactory of Martin Fisher’s designs in the diocese. While the exterior has a somewhat forbidding character, the interior is well-lit by large expanses of glass with an effective coloured glass scheme over the sanctuary. The presbytery is in a former coach house of early eighteenth-century date, and the site lies within the Batheaston Conservation Area. 

The parish has its origins in the move to Batheaston of the Good Shepherd convent and its reformatory school after bomb damage to their premises in Arnos Vale in 1941. In 1947, the sisters moved to Chippenham and the same year a temporary church dedicated to St Euphrasia Pelletier, the foundress of the Good Shepherd order, was opened in Batheaston. It was replaced by the current church, on which work started in April 1966 and which was opened by Bishop Rudderham on Ascension Day 1967. The church seated 280 and the contract cost (with a new parish hall and ancillary spaces) was £33,000. This was one of the first churches in the diocese whose design fully expressed the liturgical intentions of the Second Vatican Council. The architect was Martin Fisher of Bath.

In c.1991, the roof was renewed and about twenty years ago new stone sanctuary furnishings designed by the original architect were installed. There is a presbytery (a former coach house of early eighteenth-century origin), but today the church is served from Bradford-on-Avon (qv). 

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

The external walls are of concrete, in the form of narrow blocks and poured. The eastern diagonal half of the roof rises over the sanctuary, while the western half is flat. Most of the walls (apart from the wall facing the street) have small-paned windows, externally covered in polycarbonate sheets. The main entrance is via a small flat-roofed narthex along the northwest wall. An external staircase leads to a door in the southeast wall, while a projection at the south corner contains a confessional.

The internal walls of the narthex and of the basement hall are of exposed narrow concrete blocks, while the walls of the church are painted. The holy water stoups in the narthex are also of concrete. The interior of the church is filled with light; windows behind and above the sanctuary have coloured glass forming a bright globe at the centre. The stone altar and ambo date from the most recent reordering by the original architect, about twenty years ago. The tabernacle is placed on a wall-mounted pedestal and surmounted by a tall canopy. Above the altar is a canopy whose shape echoes that of the roof, with the raised monopitch pointing west. To the left of the sanctuary is a small projecting oriel window with blue glass, containing a modern concrete sculpture of the Virgin and Child. In the north and south corners are tall statues of St Thomas More and St John Fisher under timber canopies, from an army chapel. The sunken baptistery in the west corner has a cylindrical stone font which matches the new altar and lectern. The benches are arranged in four blocks.

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: Martin Fisher

Original Date: 1967

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not listed