Swindon - St Mary

Tovey Road, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN2

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One of three identical designs produced for churches in the Swindon area in a climate of post-war austerity, and the only one which survives in its original form. The glass in the east window is a notable feature. 

The church was built to serve a new suburb of Swindon, at a time when post-war building restrictions were in operation. It was decided to build here (and at Wroughton and Wootton Bassett, qqv) permanent buildings which would make ‘reasonably satisfactory churches … which could lend themselves to conversion to church halls when the size of the parishes warranted the erection of larger churches. The churches were sited so as to leave room for a future church’ (Catholic Building Review). All three were built by R. J. Beswick & Son of Swindon, to similar designs and materials, but only St Mary’s survives largely in its original form. At both Wootton Bassett and Wroughton land has been sold off, with a new church built at one and the 1950s church enlarged at the other. A feature of each church is or was the high sanctuary, raised on a large number of steps; this was to make the sanctuary suitable for future use as a parish hall stage. St Mary’s was designed to seat 300 and cost approximately £9,330. A linked presbytery and sacristy/meeting room cost a further £5,300. 

A small church built using a reinforced concrete truss and cavity walls, faced externally with random courses of artificial stone, with artificial stone surrounds to the windows and concrete tiles to the roof. The east and west gables each contain a circular window, that at the west end over a flat-roofed porch. At the sides, the bay divisions are marked by pilasters, each with a pre-cast bellmouth capital, while the side windows consist of triple lights divided by mullions, metal framed and with leaded divisions and opaque glass.

Inside, the brickwork is plastered and painted. The roofs are supported on reinforced concrete knee arches, with the ceiling lined with insulating board. The nave floor was originally covered with thermoplastic tiles and the sanctuary with hardwood blocks (both are now carpeted). The pews are imported, provenance unknown. The only furnishing of particular note is the glass in the east window, Our Lady Trampling a Serpent (date and artist/maker not established). 

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: R. J. Beswick & Son

Original Date: 1953

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed