Building » Burton Latimer – St Nicholas Owen

Burton Latimer – St Nicholas Owen

Kettering Road, Burton Latimer, Northants

A striking 1970s church of modern design, by a noted local architectural practice.

A Mass centre was established at the British Legion Hall in Burton Latimer in 1950. The present church was designed to seat 100 and cost £12,000. It opened on 2 March 1972, the feast of St Nicholas Owen, the Catholic carpenter and builder of ‘priest holes’, who was martyred in 1606 and canonised in 1970. The church was, and continues to be, served from St Edward’s, Kettering.


All references to compass points assume conventional liturgical orientation. The church is small but of bold form, in an elevated position. The main body of the church comprises a rectangle, greater in its north-south dimension than its east-west, and its monopitch roof rises from east to west with a tall band of clerestory glazing flooding the interior with daylight. The walls are of brick with a stepped plinth and the east and south walls are articulated into three bays by strips of decorative brickwork. The north wall opens, with large glazed openings, onto a small enclosed courtyard. The upper parts of the north and south walls comprise part of the bold roof and are clad in vertical timber boarding with a pronounced fascia of horizontal and angled boarding, a detail picked up in the fascia of the lower structure at the front of the church. This comprises a narthex and ancillary rooms. The entrance is recessed and has a deep open porch, continuing the fascia detail to unite the whole building, the roof of which cranks down over the flight of steps leading up from the car park. To the northwest is a single-storey structure for the sacristy etc. Asymmetrically placed above the west front is a cross, designed by the architects, which appears to hover in front of the building.

The entrance leads into a small narthex with lavatory to the right and kitchen to the left. The church is entered centrally on the west wall and seems slightly claustrophobic owing to the relatively modest west to east dimension, an effect exacerbated by the greater width and by the dark timber boarded underside of the roof. This is of slats rather than boards, with gaps between and with sections of the slats set at right angles so that they  project, in a seemingly random decorative pattern. The roof is divided by two open timber and steel trusses of rustic character. The internal walls are of fair-faced brickwork painted white. Wooden altar, ambo and font, also a statue of St Nicholas Owen, all contemporary with the church. Standard stackable plastic chairs have replaced wooden chairs.

Heritage Details

Architect: Gotch, Saunders & Surridge

Original Date: 1972

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed