Gibfield Lane, Belper, Derbyshire DE56
A stone-built church of the early twentieth century, re-using materials for former service buildings attached to Gibfield House. The church is almost chapel-like in its external simplicity and is an uncharacteristically low-key design by J. Sydney Brocklehurst. It makes a positive contribution to the Belper Conservation Area, although the concrete tile roof is regrettable.
Belper has a long history of nail-making, an industry with medieval origins. Considerable expansion took place from the late eighteenth century with the advent of cotton mills, and the place went on to become a significant industrial centre. There was a Catholic church by 1857, when a school and chapel were established by the Sisters of Mercy. These closed within a few years (the convent was demolished in 1863) and worship subsequently took place in a series of private houses.
The parish was established in 1909 and ten years later the stables and coach house to Gibfield House in Gibfield Lane, together with about half an acre of land, were acquired and a church and priest’s house built. The architect J. Sydney Brocklehurst used the stone from the old buildings in the new church. As described in the Diocesan Yearbook for 1921, the church had an altar of Derbyshire grit stone with a low relief carving of the Last Supper on the frontal and alabaster columns in the throne. The contractor was Lehane of Darley Dale. The church was opened and solemnly consecrated by Bishop Dunn in December 1919.
The church is a simple building of local stone with plain arched windows with clear glass. The (presumably originally slate) roof has been re-covered in concrete tiles. The church is entered via an archway and steps up to the (liturgical) west end. The south side of the building is a hall and meeting room. The northern half has been reorientated, with the altar positioned against the south wall and bench seating arranged to face it on three sides. The furnishings include pitch pine benches and ambo, and a simple stone altar. The plaster has been removed to dado level along the north wall, probably at the time of post-Vatican II reordering.
Architect: J. Sydney Brocklehurst
Original Date: 1919
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed