Barnsley - Blessed Sacrament

Matlock Road, Athersley, Barnsley, S71 3SG

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A modest dual-purpose church and hall, one of many such examples built on post-war housing estates to serve growing Catholic communities in the 1950s. 

The church was built to serve Athersley South, a large post-war housing estate on the north side of Barnsley. In 1949 a Mass centre was founded at New Lodge, from the parish of Holy Rood.  The Rev. Patrick Reeves acquired a large plot on Matlock Road, and built the present church in 1952. Initially the building was a chapel-of-ease, served from Darton until 1956 when an independent parish was erected. The presbytery was built in 1954, from designs by R. A. Ronchetti, and it is likely that he also provided the designs for the church (it bears a general similarity to his churches at Rawmarsh and Wybourn, Sheffield, qqv, for example in the ceiling design). The building initially served as a dual-purpose hall and church, and plans to build a new church alongside and adapt the present church as a hall were not realised. In the late twentieth-century a cross wall was inserted across the east end, to reduce the size of the sanctuary and form a small hall at the east end. The altar was brought forward as part of reordering in the 1990s. The parish recently sold part of the plot, previously used as a playground, for the building of new bungalow housing which was under construction in 2015.  

The church was built in 1951-2, probably to designs by R. A. Ronchetti, who designed the presbytery. The building is faced in drag-wire red brick, laid in stretcher bond, and the pitched nave roof is covered with mineral felt with flat roofs to the projecting elements. Rainwaters goods are plastic and windows are steel or aluminium. The plan comprises a small narthex to the west, five-bay nave, sanctuary, east hall and north porch. The west entrance bay slightly breaks forward from the west wall of the flat-roofed narthex, with double doors in a square-headed concrete moulded surround, flanked by steel windows. The west end of the nave has a triangular buttress topped with a concrete cross finial to the gable apex. The narthex wraps round the southwest corner of the nave to provide a small meeting room. The nave has plain aluminium-framed windows, and a flat-roofed porch for the north side entrance. The east end is blind, but with a pair of small rectangular blocked windows. There is a basement with boiler house below the raised east end, accessed via external steps from the north side.

Inside, a small narthex is top-lit by a glass-block rooflight; there are WCs to the north and south and a south doorway leads to a small meeting room used for children’s liturgy. Double timber and glazed doors lead into the nave, which has a herringbone parquet floor, plain plaster walls and acoustic ceiling panels. The pews are pine. The sanctuary is carpeted and up three steps, with the altar on a forward platform that projects in front of a wide square opening resembling a proscenium. The altar is oak with a brass relief panel of the Last Supper set into the front.

Diocese: Hallam

Architect: R. A. Ronchetti (unconfirmed attribution)

Original Date: 1952

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed