Blacon Avenue, Blacon, Chester CH4
A bold landmark post-war suburban church. The spacious, well-lit interior is conventionally arranged but retains some attractive fittings, including a striking mosaic reredos, oak pews and a marble altar and pulpit.
The parish was created after the Franciscans (of St Francis, Chester) provided a site for a church and presbytery in 1956, and £1,000. Blacon is an area of post-war housing in suburban Chester. Work commenced in April 1958 and the foundation stone was laid on 11 October that year. The presbytery and exterior of the church were completed in July 1959, and the first Mass was said on 14 December. After the Second Vatican Council the sanctuary was reordered, with the altar brought forward and the communion rails and gates removed.
The church is in a distinctive modern Gothic style, but with a conventional plan-form; a long high nave with a prominent west door and offset corner tower. The church is orientated with the sanctuary to the west, but for this description this will be referred to as the liturgical east end. The building is faced in buff brick laid in stretcher bond, with concrete and sandstone dressings to windows and parapets. The church has a shallow pitched slate roof behind a parapet. The west entrance is set within a brick three-centred arch. The west elevation has a large three-light segmental-pointed window flanked by semi-octagonal turrets with square-headed lancets. The north elevation has four pairs of square-headed lancets, and a further single light at the west end, within a recessed bay. Smaller paired windows light a single-storey flat-roofed passage aisle. A single-storey porch at the west end of the elevation provides additional access; it is flat-roofed and has a segmental-pointed entrance. Further access is provided through an entrance on the north side of the tower, detailed as the porch. The slender northeast tower is flat topped, with a louvred belfry and a red sandstone sculpture of St Theresa set within a shallow, hooded niche above a lancet window. The south elevation is almost identical with a single storey extension at the west end and link building connecting to the presbytery at the east end. A full-height projecting bay replaces the tower. The sanctuary is a five-sided apse lit by four lancet windows.
Inside, the church has a high, lofty nave, five bays long, defined by reinforced concrete bay divisions, which are also a feature in the apsidal sanctuary. Arcades of three-centred arches to the north and south provide access to passage aisles, with confessionals and a sacristy and access to the presbytery on the south side. There is a choir balcony and organ at the west end, above a small narthex. The floor is covered with modern carpet and original chequerboard linoleum and the walls are painted white; the trusses to the sanctuary are painted yellow and ceiling beams black. The windows have geometric clear and coloured glazing. The apse contains a plain marble altar with a full-height blue and gold mosaic panel on the east wall. There is also a marble pulpit and font on the north side and south sides of the sanctuary respectively. Flanking the sanctuary are two chapels with mosaic reredos and a marble altar to the north chapel. The narthex at the west end is divided from the nave by a masonry wall with two pointed-head windows and a central door. Contemporary fittings include oak bench pews, stained oak doors and the light fittings.
Architect: Reynolds & Scott
Original Date: 1959
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed