Bedford - St Philip and St James

Linnet Way/Severn Way, Brickhill, Bedford, Bedfordshire

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A  functional  post-Vatican  II  design,  serving  the  post-war  northern expansion of Bedford.

Brickhill was developed as a part of the northern expansion of Bedford, with most development taking place from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.  The church of St Philip and St James was built mainly on the initiative of Canon Antony Hulme of Bedford, from designs by Burles, Newton and Partners. The builder was Thomas Donnelly (a former mayor of Bedford). The church was designed to seat about 430 and opened in September 1967.  At first the church was served from The Holy Child and St Joseph in Bedford Road, but in 1970 it became a separate parish. A house opposite the church on Severn Way was acquired to serve as a presbytery. In 1985 alterations were made to the liturgical west end, by the insertion of upper rooms housing offices, children’s room etc (architects Greenhalgh and Williams of Dunstable).

The construction is of fair load bearing Fletton brick and lattice steel trusses over the main space and timber joists over the lower roofs. Its plan reflects the needs of the new liturgy and the need for economy. It is almost square on plain, with continuous high-level  clerestory  glazing  within  a  deep  boarded  fascia.  On  the  south  side alongside the entrance is a single-height projecting baptistery, with a curved east wall. There is a flat roofed single storey sacristy giving off the north side.

The main worship area is a single space, faced in bare brick, with a zig-zag timber boarded roof of parana pine running north-south, its form reflected in the pointed clerestory windows. The sanctuary is raised on a dais of two steps, containing a granite altar, tabernacle pedestal and lectern. The altar is of Irish granite and came from the former chapel built by the Sisters of the Holy Ghost at nearby Clapham. Alongside the dais to the right, the statue of Our Lady was brought to the church in 1986, having previously been left in a cellar at the Cathedral.   The CBR account (p.134) mentions a stained glass window in the sanctuary by George Faczynski of Liverpool in memory of Canon Hulme’s brother, not seen by the writer. The seating consists of benches, designed by the architects. The baptistery gives off the main space to the right, and contains the font, a large stained glass window by a local schoolgirl and other items.

Diocese: Northampton

Architect: Burles Newton & Partners

Original Date: 1967

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed