Bolsover - St Bernadette

High Street, Bolsover, Derbyshire S44

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A stone built church of striking roof form, one of a series of interesting 1960s designs in the Diocese by John Rochford, which makes a positive contribution to the Bolsover Conservation Area.

The 19th  century saw the expansion of Bolsover from a picturesque market town, dominated  by  its  Castle,  to  an  important  mining  centre.  This  brought  in  some Catholic workers, for whom in 1903 a wooden hut in High Street was acquired as a Mass centre, served from Shirebrook.   In 1942 a new Mass centre opened briefly in an upper room in the Market Place, but in the following year a property at no.59 High Street was acquired and an adjacent stone barn (photo upper left) fitted up as a chapel. This remained in use until 1967 when the present church was opened, built from designs by John Rochford & Partner of Sheffield and Manchester, seating 197 and costing £20,000. The barn continued to be used as a parish social centre, until sold in 2005 to fund renovation here and at Shirebrook.

The church was renovated in 2007. It continues to be served from Shirebrook (qv).

The   church   is   roughly   orientated   north-south,   but   this   description   follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar faced east.

The church is situated on a confined site in the centre of the village adjacent to the old barn which previously served as the church.   It is a simple rectangle on plan, comprising a nave and sanctuary, with the sacristies, confessional, baptistery and side altar on the north side.  It has an asymmetrical roof with a raised clerestorey on the south (geographical northwest) side. It is stone faced, with a stone slate roof. The main west front has an asymmetrical arrangement of windows, possibly inspired by Le Corbusier’s chapel at Ronchamp, and a projecting porch with entrance at the side. A stone boundary wall (lower than that shown on the drawing at figure 1) encloses the entrance approach.

The main space of the interior is a single undivided space, the walls plastered except for the east wall, which is left as bare coursed stone. The entrance area and the sanctuary are placed right of the centre line of the church, and the main circulation alley likewise, flanked by longer benches on the north side and shorter ones to the south. The roof has horizontal trusses and a timber boarded soffit, with the raised clerestory in the roof the main source of light.  The sanctuary is side-lit on the north side. Marble font in the northeast corner of the nave with circular stem and bowl. Other furnishings include a figure of the Risen Christ on the east wall, a panel of the Our Lady’s apparition at Lourdes at the west end and a good set of Stations of the Cross on the side walls, all in bronze fibreglass, by Alan Rochford, brother of the architect.

Diocese: Nottingham

Architect: John Rochford

Original Date: 1965

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not listed