Bristol - St Pius X

Gatehouse Avenue, Withywood, Bristol BS13

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A modern structure, fit for purpose and with a warm, welcoming interior, serving a housing estate and the wider rural hinterland to the south of Bristol. 

In 1956 a new parish was erected in the south of the city, catering for people living in Bishopsworth, Hartcliffe and Withywood. This was dedicated to Pope St Pius X, canonised two years previously. This site was also earmarked for a future permanent church, and plans were prepared by Ivor Day & O’Brien for a building with a tall campanile. These were not progressed, and in the meantime Mass was said in the school hall. A temporary church was built, and a school in Gatehouse Avenue, Withywood followed in 1961. At about the same time, the Sartan Club (Sarto being the family name of Pius X) was opened, becoming the largest Catholic social club in the diocese. In 1972, St David’s Centre was opened in Queen’s Road, Bishopsworth, and replaced the school hall as a Mass centre. This served until the building of the present church in Gatehouse Avenue in 1987, whereupon it became a parish hall. The architects for the new church were Atkins & Walters of Bristol, the design and build contractors Stone & Co. 

The church was built in 1987. It is square on plan, incorporating a diamond-shaped sanctuary. To the (ritual) west is an entrance area leading (to left) to a narthex with a weekday chapel and WCs giving off on either side, and (to right) to parish offices. It is built with a steel frame and is faced externally in coarsed concrete and reconstituted Bath stone blocks. The roofs are covered with concrete tiles, with gabled dormers. The south-facing roof slopes have solar panels. 

The main interior is a single space, dominated by the roof structure, which is clad (along with the sanctuary walls) with boarded timber with a natural finish. Otherwise the walls are of exposed Bath stone-coloured blocks. The floor is carpeted, and purpose-designed benches are arranged around the sanctuary to provide an intimate setting for the liturgy. Coloured glass in the sanctuary with Eucharistic symbols is by Creative Glass of Bristol.  

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: Atkins & Walters

Original Date: 1987

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed