Cheltenham - St Thomas More

Princess Elizabeth Way, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL51

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A functional church-cum-hall of 1962 which was superseded by a large church building four years later. Since the demolition of the latter in 2011 the building has reverted to its original dual-purpose use.

Built for Rolls housing estate, a rapidly growing suburb of western Cheltenham where the priest, Fr Nolan, had arrived in 1960. Mass was first celebrated at St Mark’s Centre (Anglican). The church-cum-hall was completed in August 1962 and a presbytery in 1964. Plans were made for a purpose-built church, and the estimated cost of this was £60,000 in 1964. The church, hexagonal in form with a fibreglass spirelet (figure 1), was designed by Peter Falconer & Partners of Stroud (project architect Anthony Thompson); it accommodated 400 on the ground floor and 200 in the gallery. Work began in November the following year with the foundation stone being laid on 19 March 1966. It was found necessary to appoint structural engineers and consultants Clarke Nicholls & Marcel of Cheltenham in view of the poor soil conditions. The church opened on 19 December 1966. However it was demolished on structural grounds in 2011, and the parish returned to the earlier dual-purpose hall.

The road frontage of the building is due to be replaced during 2015 using a legacy. It is also intended to place the cross from the 1965-6 church on the present building.

This is a simple, functional building from the early 1960s which has been adapted for worship after the demolition of the church. It has a hall, longer than it is wide, with a screenable sanctuary. On the right-hand side is a narthex with WCs and further back a sacristy plus a chapel dedicated to St John Fisher. The main façade has plain windows and is faced with lapped boarding but this is due for replacement in 2015 thanks to a legacy. There is a kitchenette on the left-hand side. Attached to the left-hand side of the building is a garage that can accommodate four cars.

Some items have been reused from the former church, notably various statues, the crucifix and the foundation stone. The altar and president’s chair come from the Poor Clare convent at Woodchester.

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1962

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed