Farnham Road, Farnham Royal, Slough, Berkshire
A vast building reflecting the scale and ambition of much post-war Catholic church building. It is a very late example of an Italianate Basilican church on a longitudinal plan, built at the time of the Second Vatican Council. The interior impresses by its sheer volume, but does not contain any furnishings of particular note.
In the mid 1950s a house with six acres was acquired for £7,000 and fundraising to build a church on the site began immediately. Due to the costs involved, the new church of St Anthony was planned in stages: firstly the nave (to seat 380), estimated at a cost of £32,000 exclusive of furnishing; then the sanctuary and tower (£18,000), and lastly the large transepts (£30,000).
The foundation stone was laid on 8 October 1960. The architects were Arthur Farebrother and Partners of Trafford Park in Manchester (later Desmond Williams and Associates) and the builders H.D. Bowyer of Slough.
The plan to build the church in three stages was shelved part-way into the project, when it was decided to build the tower and stubby transepts at the same time as the nave. The transepts could be extended later, if required. The church was finished by December 1963 at a cost of £62,000, and blessed on 22 February 1964. After taking into account funds spent on the neighbouring school and presbytery, the parish was left with a debt of £27,000.
In 1980 a new linked presbytery was built, from designs by Michael Hattrell and Associates of London.
Large brick-clad church in Italian Basilican style. The nave is tall and cathedral-like, with triple clerestory windows and a small, round window high in the west gable wall. At the west end is a single storey loggia, wider than the nave, which is the main entrance to the church. The west front is otherwise plain, but there is a high circular window surmounted by a statue of St Anthony. At the east end, over the crossing, is a squat, pyramidal-roofed tower; from this stubby projections for the never-built transepts. All the roofs are tiled.
Inside, the walls of the 6-bay nave are plastered and painted, apart from a low brick plinth. Arcades supported by 12 columns divide the nave from narrow side aisles. The columns are clad in what appears to be a green resin aggregate, or similar. Above this, the clerestory windows have clear glass. The plaster ceiling of the nave is divided into square compartments, each with a boss at the centre.
The west gallery contains the organ and some pews. In the round west window, stained glass installed some 15 years ago. The underside of the gallery is glazed to create a gathering area at the west end of the nave.
The sanctuary is painted in a different colour from the rest of the church. It is carpeted, with a plain, triptych timber reredos (with Crucifix), with a smaller chapel behind. Curiously, the chapel walls are lined in wool. Overlooking the sanctuary is a small, round window with stained glass which was inserted 10 years ago.
Behind the sanctuary are a series of rooms, including kitchens, sacristy, WCs, office and so on. Beyond these rooms is a link to the domestic rooms and offices of the presbytery.
Architect: Arthur Farebrother and Partners (later Desmond Williams and Associates)
Original Date: 1964
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed