Hurst Lane, Shard End, Castle Bromwich, Birmingham B34
An economical but stylish design from a time of austerity, the church was built in the early 1950s to serve a new residential area. The external character might be described as a stylistic fusion of Art Deco and Modern Gothic. Inside, the church is a wide, flexible space under segmental ceilings, with solid furnishings of good quality.
The mission was established during World War II as a Mass centre served from Coleshill. A resident priest, Rev. William G. McGann, was appointed in 1947 and a presbytery acquired at 77 Hawthorne Road. Sunday Mass was said at the Bradford Arms Hotel until work started on the present church (with the adjoining school it was built on the site of Cocksparrow Farm) in 1953. The architect was Joseph Terence Lynch of Homer, Jennings & Lynch of Brierley Hill. The church was opened on 15 October 1955, and consecrated on 3 January 1977.
This is a large brick church, with cast stone dressings and a slate roof. The style has an Art Deco-cum-modern Gothic flavour. The windows all have tall, slightly concave pointed hoods. At the west end is a broad, squat tower, chamfered at the corners with jazzy chevron brick detailing to form an irregular octagon. It has a moulded coping and tall windows at the sides, also with chevron brick detail. The central entrance and large west window are jointly framed by a raised surround which curves towards the top where it is surmounted by a fine statue of the Virgin and Child, by Thomas Wright (1899-62). At the lower level, smaller windows with pointed hoods flank the entrance. The side elevations have one tall lancet window in each bay, also with pointed hoods, and stylised buttresses mark the bay divisions. The sanctuary has a lower ridge and is externally more plainly treated; flat-roofed (behind parapets) sacristies and a side chapel give off either side. The east elevation, facing towards the presbytery, is of plain brickwork, relieved by a large cross in slightly raised brick. Low level square windows indicate a crypt or store (not inspected).
An entrance narthex leads into a single, wide aisleless six-bay nave, with shallow segmental vaulted ceiling and ribs marking the bay divisions (photo bottom right). At the west end of the nave, an organ/choir gallery occupies the space over the narthex, with a wide central opening and two narrower side openings. At the east end, the shallow segmental chancel arch is flanked by statue niches. The sanctuary also has a segmental arched ceiling, lightly coffered. The foundation stone is set into its north wall. A Lady Chapel with circular patterned flat ceiling is to the south of this and sacristies to the north, each reached by doors giving off either side of the east end of the nave. The congregational seating consists of good oak benches on a woodblock floor (carpeted in the circulation areas). There is some coloured glass in the windows, and what appear to be older, possibly imported, Stations of the Cross. Perhaps the most notable of the internal furnishings is the marble font, now located in the nave near the sanctuary (the original baptistery at the west end is now a piety shop); this has tapering sides and wavy detail. Otherwise, the sanctuary arrangements appear to belong to a post-Vatican II recording and are not of particular note.
Architect: Homer, Jennings & Lynch
Original Date: 1953
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed