Park Gate - St Margaret Mary

Middle Road, Park Gate, Southampton, Hampshire

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A 1960s building of some character with some notable furnishings and a sympathetic contemporary extension.

Mass was said at the Territorial Army Drill Hall in Park Gate until the permanent church was opened on 8 January 1966. It was designed by local architect Robert S. Shaw. The builder was D & J Arnold of Southampton and the cost £30,000. Substantial extensions were added to the front in 2004 by Sue Masser of Masser Architects of Cheriton, Hants.

The church is of two distinct builds which, nonetheless, blend well together. The 1960s building comprises a rectangle with shallow-pitched roof and the dominating feature is the sawtooth walls (as at Coventry Cathedral opened in 1962) so that the windows throw light towards the sanctuary, the latter being lit by a larger floor to ceiling height window on either side. The predominant building material is brick and the sanctuary wall is taken up to form a parapet. Portland stone relief sculpture on the outside of the sanctuary wall, a memorial ‘to the children of this parish in loving memory of Maud Ingram Poole who died 20th February 1967’, set beneath an arched canopy. A short fibreglass spire, with a gilded crown, rises above the liturgical west end of the nave. The original entrance was by way of a corridor across the front with concrete openwork panels. This was demolished in 2004 and replaced with the current extension. Brick, with white aluminium windows. A tripartite composition following the pitch of the main roof, with raised centre section with clerestory glazing and lean-to side pieces. The entire centre section is glazed towards Middle Road.

The 2004 extension comprises a central gathering space flanked by community room, Mary Chapel, sacristies and service facilities. The interior of the main church is a single volume with angled seating either side of a central aisle. Stations of the Cross in bronze by R. Gourdon, of the time of the church. Coloured dalles de verre glass by Margaret Traherne, also of 1966 in a canopied side chapel, originally the baptistery. Traherne achieved recognition as the designer of the windows in the Chapel of Unity at Coventry Cathedral. Re-set in the wall above a Byzantine-looking Madonna and Child fibre-glass panel, 1966 by Steven Sykes who also worked at Coventry Cathedral, (ceramic panels in the Chapel of Gethsemane). Also of the time of the church the Portland stone altar and recess and shelf for the tabernacle. The font, placed in an axial relationship to the altar emphasised by a pattern in the floor, symbolising baptism as the way into the church. It comes from a closed church at Whitchurch in Herefordshire. The furnishings of the Mary Chapel also come from Whitchurch and from the Society of Mill Hill former retreat house, Courtfield near Ross-on-Wye.

Diocese: Portsmouth

Architect: Robert S Shaw

Original Date: 1966

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed