The Crescent, Bromley Cross, Bolton BL7
An interesting modern design of 1966-7, reflecting the new liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. The centralised high altar and sanctuary with seating on all four sides, is expressed in the external form of the church with its tall central spire and clerestory glazing. The church has good quality original furnishings, and the stained glass by Dom Charles Norris of Buckfast Abbey and sculptures by Ray Schofield enhance its artistic interest.
The parish of St John was formed in 1960 by Fr Bernard Duggan, the nucleus being the small parish of St Aldhelm, Turton, which was expanded by the addition of the northern portions of Holy Infants, Astley Bridge and St Columba’s, Tonge Moor to make it more viable. The site for the new church was within the Toppings Estate to the northeast of Bolton, which had been developed between 1939 and the late 1950s. The church was commissioned by Fr John Hayes, who succeeded Fr Duggan, and it was erected in 1966-67 at a cost of £36,900. It was designed by J. V. Mather of Mather & Nutter of Manchester.
The dominant feature of this small church set amongst the back gardens of suburban houses is a tall tile-hung spire. It rises from a low flat-roofed brick building that is cruciform on plan. The entrance leads through a narthex to the nave which is arranged on four sides of the centrally placed altar. At each corner of the sanctuary are four concrete columns that extend through the roof to support the spire which rises to a height of twenty metres. Above the altar is a vaulted ceiling with clerestory windows of coloured glass that bathe the sanctuary in light.
The clerestory windows were originally fitted with clear glass, but in 1978 they were replaced with slab glass set in concrete in the manner of dalle de verre, designed and made by Dom Louis Charles Norris of Buckfast Abbey. The design was inspired by St John’s Book of the Apocalypse, describing the heavenly city, the sea of crystal and the splendours of the New Jerusalem with its dazzling city walls. Three other stained glass windows also by Dom Norris were originally made for St Aldhelm’s Church, and were transferred to St John’s in 1994 after the closure of St Aldhelm’s. The west window represents the Creation before the Fall; the middle window represents Salvation; and the east window, opposite the Creation window, symbolises the Resurrection of Jesus. The Stations of the Cross and the figures of St John, Our Lady of Mount Carmel and the risen Christ in metallic fibreglass are by Ray Schofield, who was born in Bolton, and date from the 1980s. He also made the etched glass window on the history of the parishes of St Aldhelm and St John and their priests, which dates from 1994. The white stone altar and font, and the fine mahogany benches were designed by Mather and are original to the church.
Original Date: 1967
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed