Newbury - St Francis de Sales

Warren Road, Wash Common, Newbury, Berkshire

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The church is of some architectural and historic interest, being converted from a nineteenth century barn and farm buildings, associated with the farmhouse once known as Warren Lodge. They are a valuable reminder of the former rural character of Wash Common, now largely absorbed within the suburban spread of Newbury. The nave retains the fine original barn roof.

The presbytery and church and are a former farmhouse and farm buildings dating from about 1858, when Wash Common was enclosed. The presbytery was formerly known as Warren Lodge.

The parish was created in 1967 and initially served by the Servite Friars, based at nearby Enborne Lodge. The site of the present church was purchased in 1970 for £11,500, and then comprised a group of early-nineteenth century farm buildings, including the farmhouse, a barn and other farm buildings. Conversion work began on the barn in September 1970 and had progressed sufficiently to allow for Midnight Mass to be held in the building that Christmas. The building was opened and blessed by Bishop Worlock on 16 May 1971. The architect for the conversion wasJohn Binns of Newbury, a parishioner, and the builders were R. Bance & Sons of Newbury. The cost was about £10,000.

The church is constructed within the former barn and farm buildings and is L-shaped in plan. The main body of the church is the former barn, built in red brick with evidence of original narrow ventilation openings, under a half-hipped tiled roof. The entrance porch is formed from the original midstrey opening, adapted and glazed (at the angle of the two ranges). The slightly lower range giving off to the south of the barn has a slate roof and is now of two storeys – a ‘transept’ forming part of the worship area at ground floor with parish facilities above. The windows all belong to the 1970 conversion.

The internal walls are faced with painted blockwork, presumably dating from the time of the conversion. The interior is notable above all for the fine timber barn roof, with king posts and queen struts. There is also some re-used 19th century stained glass and early-twentieth century oak benches in the nave.

The presbytery, which is listed grade II, is a two storey building with a hipped slate roof with bracketed eaves and recessed sash windows with glazing bars. It has a central entrance portico with panelled pilasters carrying a cornice and blocking course.

Diocese: Portsmouth

Architect: J.R. Binns ARCA

Conservation Area: No

Modifications: 1970

Listed Grade: Not listed