Marlborough - St Thomas More

George Lane, Marlborough, Wiltshire, SN8

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A small and functional reinforced concrete-framed, brick-clad design of the late 1950s, with some furnishings of note.

In the eighteenth century the Hyde family of Marlborough maintained a domestic chaplain.  The first Mass centre in modern times was established by the Rev. Joseph Anthonioz, a Fransalian from Devizes, in a bungalow in Elcot Lane in 1937. In 1948 Fr Anthonioz purchased a site in George Lane, where a church in the form of a Nissen hut was erected (figure 1). In 1953 a nearby house was acquired for the priest. The present church, dedicated to St Thomas More, was built in 1959 (datestone in east wall). The identity of the architect has not been established, but the design is a more modern version of the reinforced concrete-framed designs built in and around Swindon in the 1950s by R. J. Beswick & Son. The church was consecrated by Bishop Alexander in 1985. 

The church has a reinforced concrete frame and is clad in purple brick laid in stretcher bond, with concrete dressings and a concrete pantile roof. A datestone is set into the east wall. On plan the building consists of an unaisled nave and sanctuary, with a flat-roofed sacristy to the north and a small projection, probably originally a baptistery but now housing WCs, to the west. The sanctuary is narrower than the nave, and is side-lit. A large gabled projection on the street elevation marks the main entrance, with creased tile kneelers, projecting door surround and elongated diamond window opening above. The nave windows have square projecting surrounds, with replacement uPVC frames. The west gable is largely glazed, with reinforced concrete subdivisions.

The interior is simple in character, with the trusses and purlins of the frame exposed, and white panels between. A modern gallery has been installed at the west end. The sanctuary furnishings and nave seating are plain. The most notable of the furnishings is a sculpture of the Risen Christ against the blind east wall of the sanctuary (artist not established). The sidelights of the sanctuary contain colourful abstract glass on the theme of Pentecost by Jim Budd, 1988.      

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: Not established, possibly R. J. Beswick & Son

Original Date: 1959

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed