Redfield, Bristol - St Patrick

Dillon Court, Redfield, Bristol BS5

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A church of the 1990s, not architecturally distinguished, but with a truly remarkable interior, an amalgam incorporating newly-commissioned as well as re-used furnishings and artworks.

In 1920 a shop in Redfield was acquired and converted to serve as a chapel-of-ease dedicated to St Patrick. The following year a site in Pile Marsh was bought and a church built to the designs of Sir Frank Wills in 1922-3. This building has strong similarities with Wills’ church of St Joseph, Fishponds (qv), built two years later. In 1929 a field adjoining the church was purchased and a school built. Some minor additions were made to the church in 1940 by Roberts & Willman of Taunton.

With the arrival in 1988 of the Rev. Gregory Grant an ambitious redevelopment plan began, including a new church, presbytery, convent for the Sisters of the Divine Mercy and twenty-two retirement flats. The new buildings were erected in the mid-1990s and the old church was converted into a parish centre. The architects for the scheme were J. T. Group Ltd. Perspex liturgical furnishings by Arthur Fleischmann which had previously been in the church of St Charles Borromeo, Ogle Street in central London, and then briefly in the crypt of Westminster Cathedral, were acquired by Fr Grant, and installed in the newly-completed sanctuary. Stained glass was acquired from the pro-cathedral at Clifton, and the church was gradually adorned with an extensive scheme of painted decoration, creating an extraordinary interior reflecting the multicultural make-up of the congregation. It received a Bristol Civic Society Award in 1999. 

The church is part of complex built on a sloping site, which includes the presbytery and the parish offices on the ground floor with the church on the upper floor. The building is rectangular in plan with a shallow-pitched roof. The taller nave is set across the shorter axis north/south axis and the liturgical east end faces south. The walls are of red brick laid in stretcher bond, relieved by bands of blue brick; the roof coverings are concrete tiles. The liturgical west end faces east and has a broad gable with a central entrance reached by steps and ramps. The tall end walls of the nave have circular windows and to either side of the nave-ends are pairs of broad pointed windows.

The main entrance leads to a spacious narthex and so to the interior of the church, which is a single unobstructed space. The ‘nave’ is taller than the rest of the space, and its side walls, ends and ceiling are highly decorated. The barrel-vaulted nave ceiling is painted in tempera and the end walls are covered in mosaic and by a painted triptych, all by Maciej and Piotr Kaucznski. The altar, ambo, font, crucifix and candelabra are by Arthur Fleishmann, a Hungarian who pioneered Perspex as a sculpture medium; these furnishings were acquired by Fr Grant in the 1990s, having previously been in churches in the Archdiocese of Westminster. The upper walls of the ‘nave’ are lined with a series of large oil paintings of scriptural scenes from the life of the Virgin by the Filipino painter Ramon Gaston (figure 2). The walls on either side of the ‘nave’ have pairs of large stained glass windows of saints relocated from the disused pro-cathedral at Clifton. They date from 1908, 1912 and 1924 and are probably from the Hardman workshop; they were re-fixed by Creative Glass of Bristol, who also designed and installed new stained glass in the other windows. Along one end wall are the Stations of the Cross, engraved coloured glass roundels by Stephen Bradley. 

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: J. T. Group Ltd

Original Date: 1995

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed