Building » Headington – Corpus Christi

Headington – Corpus Christi

Margaret Road, Headington, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX3

A small suburban church, built in two stages in the 1930s and 1950s. In the 1970s a dalle de verre window was installed at the east end. The Stations of the Cross by Faith Tolkien are notable furnishings.

The first Mass in Headington was said in 1932. In 1936 the parish hall opened and in June 1936 the construction of the church began, helped by an anonymous donation of £1,250. Cardinal Hinsley laid the foundation stone on 1 October 1936. The first stage of the church (the east end) was blessed and opened by Archbishop Williams on 18 February 1937. The architect was Gilbert Gardner. The second phase (the west end) was completed in 1953, though without the tower shown on the original plans. In the early 1970s, the east end was remodelled, with the addition of a curved dalle de verre window by Leslie Sheels.

The church was built in two phases: the eastern half in 1936-7, and the western in 1953. The break is still discernible in the different coloured roof tiles (photo top left) and the different types of timber used for the woodblock floor. The church was built using brick laid in English garden wall bond; it has a tiled roof and aluminium windows. The plan consists of a longitudinal aisleless nave with a narrower chancel, and a short west tower flanked by transepts. Above the moulded west doorway is a niche with a statue of Christ in Majesty. The south elevation has gables over five of the central nave bays which project above the roofline. The central gable is wider, presumably due to the original porch below (figure 1; it is now a niche with a Sacred Heart statue). The east end has a shallow curved extension of the early 1970s to the original blind east wall.

The interior has a tunnel vaulted seven-bay nave. The current lobby at the northwest was originally the baptistery (it retains its wrought iron gates). The sanctuary is flanked by two side chapels. The stone altar, tabernacle stand and lectern date from the reordering in 1980. The east window by Leslie Sheels depicts the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. The north side chapel has an icon of Mary Mother of God by the Moscow icon painter Alexander Gormatiuk (installed in 2000). The south side chapel has a copy of Michelangelo’s Pietà. Only the north side chapel retains its altar rails. The Stations of the Cross are circular reliefs in bronze by Faith Tolkien (1985-8).

The church occupies a corner site, with the presbytery to the northeast and the hall to the southeast. A new link between hall and church provides step-free access. The parish complex is located in a suburb developed during the interwar period.

The church is not listed and is not considered to be a candidate for listing.

Heritage Details

Architect: Gilbert Gardner

Original Date: 1936

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed