Building » Cambridge – St Laurence

Cambridge – St Laurence

Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 1XB

  • Northampton Diocesan Yearbook, 1959

A plain brick church of 1958, and a characteristic design by Wearing & Hastings of Norwich, with vestigial Gothic detailing. The building has seen a series of minor alterations and additions, including two tapestries by Fiona Rutherford on the east wall. 

In 1938 a Cambridge parishioner gave £250 to establish a Mass centre in Chesterton. A site was purchased with a frontage to the High Street and in 1939 a prefabricated metal hut, which had been used as part of the First Eastern General hospital during the First World War and later moved to the grounds of Our Lady and the English Martyrs for use as a Catholic Men’s Club, was moved to the Chesterton site and dedicated to St Laurence. A parish was erected in 1947, and in the early 1950s a new site was acquired in Milton Road, large enough for a church, parish hall and presbytery. The foundation stone of the church was laid by the Bishop of Northampton on 8 March 1958 and the building, designed by Wearing & Hastings of Norwich, was dedicated by the bishop on 24 August of the same year. The prefabricated hut was then moved again, to Ditton Lane, where it serves as the church of St Vincent de Paul (qv).

Amongst later changes at St Laurence’s, in 1987 the sanctuary was reordered and the altar rails removed. In 1994 a parish room was constructed behind the single-storey link between the church and the presbytery. In 2006 a substantial brick porch was added to the south end of the church and a west gallery formed inside the building to increase seating capacity. 


The church is not orientated: the liturgical east end faces northwest. All directions in this description are liturgical. 

The church is a simple modern building with vestigial Gothic elements. It has a laminated timber portal frame, clad externally in brindled yellow brick laid in stretcher bond with a pitched roof covered in pantiles. The plan comprises a west porch with a glazed roof and a wide aisleless nave with a short sanctuary. The west gable wall has a traceried rose window above the porch and rustication at the outer corners rising to the kneelers of the deeply-overhanging eaves. The side walls have simple rectangular windows and the east wall is blind.  

The interior is a single undivided space with the timber portal frames exposed. The side walls have barefaced brick dadoes and are plastered above, and the roof between the frames is ceiled. At the west end is a full-width gallery with a narthex space beneath now containing the small octagonal Gothic-style stone font. The rose window in the gable wall at the west end has modern abstract stained glass, while the other windows are clear glazed. The body of the church is seated with timber benches. The short sanctuary is defined by wide brick piers to either side and has a modern stone altar raised on steps. Hung on the east wall behind the altar is a crucifix flanked by quadrant tapestries by Fiona Rutherford on the theme of Sowing and Reaping (2014).

Heritage Details

Architect: Wearing & Hastings

Original Date: 1958

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed