Blandford Forum - Our Lady of Lourdes and St Cecilia

White Cliff Mill Street, Blandford Forum, Dorset

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A modest 1930s Gothic-style church of no particular architectural significance. The interior is of some quality, and has some furnishings of note. 

Until the 1930s Blandford Catholics were served by the convent at nearby Spetisbury. The Order returned toFranceat that time, prompting the building of a Catholic Church in Blandford.

The altar faces west but for the purposes of this description all references to compass points will assume conventional orientation with the altar facing east. A small red brick cruciform church in a Gothic style, with minimal stone dressings. Gabled tiled roofs with parapets. Gabled west porch. Angle buttresses with two set-offs. Nave and sanctuary have two-light windows in the form of two lancets beneath a single pointed arch, two to the north side of the nave and three to the south and one on the north side of the sanctuary and two to the south. The east wall has no windows. On the north side of the nave in the angle with the transept there is a lean-to projection housing the confessionals. The west porch has an open pointed arch. The bright red/orange brick and the flat detailing make for a not very appealing exterior.

 

The interior is, by contrast, attractive with its plastered walls, paint colour scheme, and shallow segmental tunnel vaulted ceilings with the effect of a shallow groin vault under the crossing. The atmosphere is light and calm. The church was recently re-ordering, prompted by the need to rebuild the wall between the sanctuary and the sacristy, a structural wall that was unsound. It was rebuilt further west, reducing the size of the sanctuary and increasing the size of the sacristy. The work of rebuilding and re-ordering was undertaken by John Turnbull of Howard, Shreeve & Turnbull, architects of Blandford. A thin metal screen between the nave and chancel was removed, as were the high altar and riddel. The altar was remade, incorporating marble panels from the previous altar, which had in turn been re-used from the altar at Spetisbury. The ambo and font are of the same time, carved from an Italian limestone, designed and made by John Shepherd. In the north transept a large stone panel hangs on the wall carved (by Josephine Winzar) with a text from the Gospel. A carved wooden cross (installed in 2008) hangs over the altar, carved by David John. At the west end of the church is a striking bronze sculpture of St Cecilia. It was donated by a parishioner and is said to have been made by a nun.

Diocese: Plymouth

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1934

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not listed