Wales Lane, Barton-under-Needwood, Staffordshire DE13
A traditional longitudinal-planned church of the early 1960s, much altered in 2000. The attached parish hall is approached from a common narthex. The top-lit church interior is now focussed on the sanctuary placed on a long side.
The first Mass at Barton took place on 15 April 1945 in a large house on Dunstall Road. Later, Mass took place in the parish church hall and fundraising took place in a social club in a nearby house. In 1963, the parish was created out of the Woodlane parish to meet the expanding population of this large village with Fr Casey as the first priest. The church was opened that year but the intended hall was not begun until 1991. The diocesan lists give Sandy & Norris of Stafford as the architects for the church. Both church and hall underwent substantial remodelling in 2000; a commemoration stone in the narthex was blessed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols on 2 December 2000, naming the architects as Hulme Upright (of Tunstall, Stoke on Trent).
The church is reverse orientated with the ‘west’ tower facing geographic east. Correct compass points will be used in this description.
The church was built in 1963 to serve the growing population of Barton and sits back from Wales Road beyond a car park. There was no meeting room, only a sacristy where the WCs are now. ‘Our Lady’s Hall’ was begun by Fr Hull in 1991 and opened the following year. The presbytery looks like the other detached houses along this street and doesn’t share the materials of the complex. These are buff brick in stretcher bond, with red brick base and eaves courses, red brick frames to features with some blue bricks used below the eaves course and slate roofs. The windows are mainly of metal, some painted green.
The complex is entered by a central part-glazed open porch on wood posts (of 2000) to a narthex that gives access to the church on the right (north) and the large meeting room on the left. Behind there is a north-south link (creating a U-plan) with the WCs, kitchen and sacristy. In 2000 the altar was turned through ninety degrees to sit opposite the entry point on the north wall. The west door in the tower was bricked up and the congregation seated in a semicircle, rather than longitudinally.
The tower may have been reconstructed at roof level, as there is a distinct change in the pointing (but this could be just a repair). The pitched roof runs east-west from large gables, interrupted with smaller north and south roofs and gables. The west door now contains a white statue of Our Lady and the east and west tower walls are decorated with large raised red brick crosses. A small window at the base of the north side lights the staircase to the gallery inside.
The church is plastered inside and is lit by three triangular dormers on the south and one larger dormer at wall plate level centrally on the north wall above the curved sanctuary recess (possibly another addition of 2000). The east wall to the tower is open above a gallery and further light comes from the two tall round-headed tower windows. The four roof trusses are of bolted timbers with a cranked tie-beam. They sit on shallow pilasters that articulate the side walls. There is no west window, but the shallow central recess containing a crucifix presumably delineates the 1963 sanctuary. A glazed partition at the west leads to the curving gallery staircase on the north and storage to the south. On it is The Christian Ladder by Christopher White (2003) of applied leads and painted glass. The organ sits on a platform across the southeast corner. The long sloped benches are a little awkwardly arranged in semicircles facing the north sanctuary, whose fittings are of white limestone.
Architect: Sandy & Norris; Hulme Upright of Tunstall
Original Date: 1963
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed