Foster Avenue, Beeston, Nottingham NG9
A church in the modern Romanesque style widely adopted for Catholic churches in the middle years of the twentieth century, extended in matching style in the 1970s. The church occupies a prominent location at the civic heart of Beeston and is given a commanding presence by its broad, squat tower.
A missionary priest was appointed to serve Beeston and Long Eaton in 1884. Three years later Beeston became an independent mission, but this only lasted for a year. Mass was said in various places in the town until 1897, when a site was obtained in Styring Street and a church built from plans drawn up by a Mr Hart. This plain brick Gothic chapel, dedicated to St Peter, was opened by Bishop Bagshawe in 1898.
The present church site in Foster Avenue was acquired in 1939 and the foundations laid for a larger and more permanent church. Work was delayed by the war, but after the war F.M. Reynolds drew up new designs for the replacement church. Earlier versions were rejected as too costly or elaborate (this was the period of building licences) until a scheme was finally approved in 1951. The foundation stone was laid on 29 March 1952 and the completed church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption and built by the Nottingham firm of Sweeney & Palmer, was opened by Bishop Ellis on 21 March 1954. It provided seating for approximately 240 people. The presbytery was also built in 1954.
In 1971 the sanctuary was remodelled, and the original high altar and baldacchino removed. There was a further reordering in the 1990s, when the altar rails were removed. In 1974 an extension to the nave was built in matching style by Reynolds & Scott, providing additional seating (bringing the capacity up to 300), a narthex, balcony and porch. The cost of these additions was £27,200. A parish hall/community centre was built in 1984, from designs by Eberlin & Partners.
The church is in the modern Romanesque style and consists of nave, narrow circulation aisles, central tower, transepts and chancel with side chapel and attached sacristy etc. The walls are faced in loadbearing Ibstock brick laid in Flemish bond, with reconstituted stone dressings and tile roofs. The main entrance is at the west front, where there is a three-bay porch with barrel vaulted arches covered in copper. The windows are all round arched and of vertical proportions, paired in the nave and transepts, triple in the sanctuary. There is a canted east wall to the sanctuary, plain apart from an inset cross. There is a further entrance to the church from the north transept, facing the street. The tower is broad and squat, with a row of low round- headed high level windows on each side, insets at the corners and shallow pedimented parapets.
The interior is a simple yet impressive space with rounded arches delineating the arcades, crossing and chancel, and plastered wall finishes (apart from a perimeter brick plinth). The original high altar and baldacchino were removed in post-Vatican II reordering, but the church retains a number of original features or features of note, including oak benches in the nave, original light fittings, iron gates on either side of the sanctuary with inset Eucharistic symbols, and mosaic inlay in the chancel floor. An Italian carving of the Assumption is in the side Lady Chapel, and the theme is also represented in the west window, over the gallery.
Architect: F. M. Reynolds
Original Date: 1952
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed