Building » Bulwell – Our Lady of Perpetual Succour

Bulwell – Our Lady of Perpetual Succour

Brooklyn Road, Bulwell, Nottingham NG6

A fine interwar design in Romanesque-Basilican style, little altered and with a good set of furnishings, including a monumental mosaic in the chancel possibly by Ludwig Oppenheimer.

Mass was said in Bulwell from 1882, in a house in Gedling Street. In 1885 a disused building and adjoining house in Downing Street were acquired to serve as a church and priest’s residence, and these served until 1911. In 1920 the site on Brooklyn Road was acquired, and an army hut obtained and fitted out as a church. A presbytery was built on the south side of the site, and in 1924 the newly-established parish of Bulwell got its first resident priest. In 1927 the first part of the Poor Clare convent was built towards the back of the site and in 1932 a parish hall was built by volunteer labour. Finally in 1934 the foundation stone of  a permanent  church  was  laid  by Bishop McNulty, and the new church opened on May 8 1935. The architects were E. Bower Norris and F.M. Reynolds of Manchester and the contractor M. O’Hehir of Basford, Nottingham. A new chapel was built for the nuns at the same time, giving off the chancel at a right angle. The church was consecrated Bishop Ellis on 8 May 1951.

A large church in Romanesque Basilican style, of red brick with sparing use of red sandstone dressings, under a slate roof.   The church consists of a narthex, aisled nave,  chancel and side chapels.  The nuns’  chapel gives off the north side of the chancel. The church has an imposing west front with a double height deeply recessed arch at its centre. This encloses the main entrance, above which is a carved sandstone panel  with  a  representation  of  the  famous  Byzantine  painting  of  Our  Lady  of Perpetual Succour (the original of which hangs in the church of St Alphonsus Liguori, Rome). Above this is a large stained glass window. Asymmetrically placed to the south side and slightly set back from the west front is a tower with Romanesque detailing, with a side entrance at the bottom. Balancing this on the north side is a projecting apsidal baptistery.  The flank walls  are plainly treated,  with tall round arched openings, and brick pilasters marking the bay divisions. There is no external demarcation between the nave and chancel. Beyond the latter, to the north and east, are the pantile roofed convent buildings.

The main entrance leads into a narthex under a western organ/choir gallery. At the northern end of the narthex is the baptistery, retaining its original octagonal font, and some stained glass with baptismal imagery. The nave is of five bays and has plain round arched arcading giving onto the narrow aisles, intended for circulation, with arched lateral bay divisions. The arcading springs from a brick plinth, which runs around the perimeter walls of narthex, baptistery, aisles and chancel, uniting the interior. Above this plinth the walls are plastered and painted white, with round arched windows with leaded lights, those in the clerestory with roundels depicting the Instruments of the Passion and the Four Evangelists. Oversailing the nave and chancel is an open truss timber roof of basilican character; there is no structural separation of the nave and chancel; the transition is instead marked by a hanging rood, installed in 1935.

The sanctuary is dominated by a large and fine Byzantine-style mosaic of the Last Supper on the east wall. This looks to be the work of Ludwig Oppenheimer, who worked with Norris and Reynolds elsewhere, and was installed after the war in 1949 (Diocesan Year Book, 1952). In front of this is placed a domed bronze tabernacle on a pedestal,  and  in  front  of  this  a  forward  altar.  The  high  altar  was  originally surmounted by a baldacchino, since removed.   The solid brick sanctuary communion rail and a brick pulpit designed by the architects have also been removed, although

iron Communion rails survive in the side chapels. Giving off the north side of the chancel is a screen, behind which is the nuns’ chapel. At the east end of the north aisle is the Lady Chapel, with a marble altar with mosaic reredos incorporating the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. In front of this is an original section of wrought iron and mahogany communion rail.

Other furnishings of note include the Stations of the Cross, set in arched recesses in the aisles, original plain oak benches of 1935, an imported 19th  century organ in the choir gallery and a large stained glass window of the Virgin and Child at the west end, inscribed ‘a gift from Ireland’.   The Art Deco-style light fittings appear to be original.

Heritage Details

Architect: E. Bower Norris and F.M. Reynolds

Original Date: 1935

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed