Building » Cambridge – St Philip Howard

Cambridge – St Philip Howard

Walpole Road, Cherry Hinton, Cambridge, CB1 3TH

A low-key, functional but carefully-considered dual-purpose design of the 1970s by the Burles Newton partnership, altered and re-furnished over time to emphasise its religious rather than hall purpose.

Before 1978 Catholics in south Cambridge were served from various Mass centres, including St Bede’s school and the infants’ school at Fulbourn. A site for a possible church building at the corner of Walpole Road and Cherry Hinton Road had been acquired from the City Council in the 1950s but by the early 1970s no decision had been taken on how to use it. Eventually in 1975 it was decided to build a dual-purpose church with social facilities and attached presbytery. Designs were commissioned from John Newton of the Burles Newton Partnership. The main part of the church consisted of three main elements: a small sanctuary to one side which could be screened off to form a small weekday chapel, the main weekday church and an additional portion to enlarge the church space for Sunday services. There were also two small meeting rooms. The internal layout of the main building was changed in the 1990s to place the sanctuary facing the main congregation. The church was opened on 25 October 1978. It was dedicated to the sixteenth century martyr St Philip Howard, an alumnus of St John’s College, who had been canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970. 


The church is in a functional modern style, designed to be self-effacing and flexible. It is rectangular on plan, with a central section under two opposed monopitch roofs divided by a clerestorey upstand and flat-roofed additions containing the ancillary spaces along the shorter sides. The walls are of loadbearing red brick laid in stretcher bond, the roofs partly tiled and partly covered with metal. The main interior space has a woodblock floor and walls of barefaced white brick. The heavy timber beams of the roof are exposed, with timber boarding above. The main space is divided by a cross wall with a full-width folding partition to allow the two parts to be combined. The sanctuary is now set against the long east side wall and is lit from the central clerestorey above. The tabernacle is placed in a recess to the right of the sanctuary, with a tapestry behind. A number of devotional statues have been introduced over time, including a wooden statue of St Philip Howard. The building is seated with chairs.

Heritage Details

Architect: Burles, Newton & Partners

Original Date: 1978

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed