Building » Brigg – St Mary

Brigg – St Mary

Barnard Avenue, Brigg, Lincolnshire DN20

A large church of unusual plan form, designed at the time of the Second Vatican Council to accommodate the needs of the new liturgy.

There are records of Mass being said in an upper room in Bigby Street, Brigg from about 1770, much of the time served by Franciscans from Worlaby Hall, the family seat of Sir John Webb. In the early nineteenth century two émigré priests, Pierre and Jacques Moulin (who anglicised their name to Mills) arrived and built a small chapel on Scawby Road. This was a simple vernacular structure, later enlarged, which was demolished in 1968.

In 1874 the Sherriff of Lincolnshire Valentine Elwes converted to Catholicism, a high-profile defection from the established Church (his son Dudley later became Bishop of Northampton). Elwes funded the establishment of a permanent priest, and a new chapel was opened adjoining the Manor House, home of the Elwes family, in 1875. This remained in use until 1965, when a large new church seating 312 was opened on Barnard Avenue, from designs by Reynolds & Scott. The builders were the local firm of R.M. Phillips & Son. More recently a large parish hall has been built, attached to the north side of the church.


A large church fan-shaped design, designed at the time of the Second Vatican Council to accommodate the needs of the new liturgy. It is connected to the contemporary presbytery via a single storey flat-roofed and enclosed link.  The church is built of loadbearing brick with reinforced concrete window surrounds which are in part structural; the precast concrete clerestory windows act as a continuous tie beam. The raked flank walls of the chancel are faced with alternating glazed and concrete panels, the latter with inset with stones to create a modern version of chequerboard and galleted flushwork. The east end itself is of solid plain brickwork. The roof was probably originally in copper but is now faced in grey tern-coated steel or similar.

The main entrance has paired doors on either side flanking a central baptistery. Above this glazed entrance centrepiece is a nine-light window rising almost to ridge height, its apex following the line of the roof. The flank walls are predominantly plain and brick, apart from the continuous high-level clerestory, and the chancel predominantly glazed on the sides and solid brick on the canted east wall.

The entrance doors flank the central baptistery, where the font is still located. This is octagonal, on a base resembling an inverted capital; it has the appearance of having been brought in rather than designed for the church. The baptistery forms part of a narthex area which is enclosed from the main body of the church by means of a glass screen and from where on the south side stairs rise to an organ and choir gallery. The main body of the church is broad and high, getting wider towards the sanctuary. This allows for more seating capacity at the front of the church. The internal walls are plastered and painted, and from the clerestory rises the roof, supported on two pre-cast concrete cranked beams, the first at the mid-point of the nave and the second at the junction of the nave and sanctuary. These support laminated timber purlins with cedar boarding above. The sacristies and Lady Chapel, the latter with its own high-level clerestory glazing, give off the south side, connecting to the presbytery. The congregational seating consists of well-designed benches with incised crosses in the ends, presumably original. The organ, placed on the north side of the western gallery, is by J. W. Walker and Sons, London and dates from 1969.

The sanctuary is trapezium-shaped. A freestanding altar (designed as such) occupies its  centre, on three steps. The original altar rails enclose the sanctuary, and the tabernacle is raised by two further steps and placed on a plinth against the east wall. The sanctuary is flooded with light from the sides, the rectangular quarries of the windows starting as clear at the bottom, progressing through yellows, greens and pinks to blues at the higher levels. The glass in the nave and Lady Chapel is similarly coloured. On the plastered east wall of the sanctuary is a crucifix, obtained from Italy.

Heritage Details

Architect: Reynolds & Scott

Original Date: 1965

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed