Building » Bournemouth – Christ the King

Bournemouth – Christ the King

Durdells Avenue, Kinson, Bournemouth, Dorset

A good mainstream example of a 1960s church, built at the time of the Second Vatican Council, still traditional in its layout but clothed in a contemporary manner and one of the first churches in the diocese to be designed with a freestanding altar. 

The village of Kinson has, in the last fifty years, been swallowed up by the suburban expansion of Bournemouth. In the nineteenth century Catholics in the area attended Mass at Holy Cross Abbey, Stapehill. In 1895 the mission of St Joseph’s, Branksome was formed from St Mary’s, Poole but this was still some four miles distant from Kinson. From 1938 Mass at Kinson was said first in an upstairs room of the Dolphin Inn on Wimborne Road and subsequently in a hut in Truman Road, a hall and a temporary church until, in 1950, St Theresa’s church was built in Truman Road and the parish of Kinson established. In 1959 a school was built in Durdells Avenue and the church of Christ the King followed, seven years later, largely owing to the generosity of Mrs Margaret Wells. The church was built to seat 300. According to the Catholic Building Review (1965, p.192) it was ‘the first local church designed and built where the altar is situated so that Mass can be served facing the people’.


Christ the King church has the altar facing southwest but for the purposes of this description all reference to compass points will be on the basis that the church is conventionally oriented with the altar facing east.

The church is built of hand-made sand faced multicoloured bricks around a steel frame. It is a large building comprising a tall and broad nave (stepped externally), with low side aisles and chapels, sanctuary the same height as the nave and a southwest bell tower (though without a bell as the local authority forbade this following a petition against the tolling of a bell in the residential neighbourhood). Whilst of traditional form, the style of the church is characteristic of post-war modern churches, perhaps more 1950s than 60s. The tower is slender and square on plan with stacks of seven horizontal bell openings with simple projecting concrete frames. In a niche at ground level is a fibreglass sculpture of Christ the King. Foundation stone below. The west front of the church has a lightweight canopy of shallow segmental arches set between the projection of the tower on one side and an angled projection on the other. Immense west window above with a honeycomb pattern of cast stone tracery. The aisles have a band of high-level horizontal windows. Immediately above is a band of clerestory windows with segmental arched heads then, curiously, a large expanse of brickwork. There are also several floor to ceiling windows with plain concrete mullions and much larger windows to light the sanctuary from either side.

The church is entered by the main west doors into a low narthex, the full width of the church, formed beneath the west gallery, of timber construction with a castellated effect to the gallery front and glazed screen below. The interior is light and spacious, the aisles barely reading behind the bold arcades encompassing the clerestory windows. The walls and ceiling are painted white, but the centre part of the ceiling steps up and is painted red. The sanctuary is slightly narrower and the east wall follows a shallow concave curve and the entire wall is panelled in three bands of American walnut matchboarding. The original freestanding stone altar is raised up two steps and suspended above is a canopy of curved form, of Maplewood faced with scarlet cushions. From it hangs a crucifix. A niche in the east wall houses the tabernacle. To either side are three tall bronze candlesticks. Decorative metal grilles on either side, separating off a passage way and the sacristies to the south and a Lady Chapel to the north. The central aisle of the nave is tiled with black bands creating the effect of a ladder or stairway. Southeast top-lit baptistery, separated from the aisle by a decorative metal screen or grille. Cone shaped font of polished Portland stone. The windows are mostly clear glazed, but there are some panes of coloured glass in the windows at the eastern end. The Stations of the Cross look more recent; square panels of white veined black marble with the scenes simply picked out in white.

Heritage Details

Architect: Max G. Cross

Original Date: 1966

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed