Shire Lane, Chorleywood, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire WD3
This small place of worship occupies a former private house with an extension, now used as the worship area, designed by the important Arts and Crafts architect, C. F. A. Voysey, in his distinctive style. It is his contribution, rather than the original house or the later use and fitting out as a Catholic church, that makes the building of architectural and historic interest.
In 1944 some ten Catholics were residing at Chorleywood, and the Assumptionist Fathers at Rickmansworth sent a priest to say Mass at the Memorial Hall. This arrangement continued until 1953, when the Hitchings family made available for worship the ground floor of their house, Rosebank. Over the next two years the Catholic population expanded greatly and it was decided to purchase Hill Cottage, which had a large ground-floor studio, suitable as a place of worship. The latter was the chief feature of an extension of the early twentieth century, added by the major Arts and Crafts architect C. F. A. Voysey (1857-1943), who lived in Chorleywood at The Orchard. The cost of acquiring the premises was some £4,000 and the first Mass was celebrated in September 1955 when it became a chapel of ease from Rickmansworth, dedicated to St John Fisher. The upper floor became devoted to accommodation and now houses the parish priest. Chorleywood became an independent parish in 1962. It is small and is reported to have some 120 Catholics within it.
The list description (see below) describes the building and repetition is not necessary. In summary, it consists of a routine turn of the twentieth-century roughcast cottage (which could have been run up without a professional architect’s involvement), which was extended in Voysey’s distinctive style. The ruling features of Voysey’s work are the expansive hipped roof and the bands of mullioned windows to the front elevation. Voysey’s work is also much in evidence at the rear, especially with a long extension on the right (when viewed from the garden). A utilitarian brick extension was added along the breadth of the studio after the building became a church. The layout consists of the worship space right of the entrance (also used for secular activities) and behind this is a loggia-type extension. On the left of the building is a sacristy at the front, behind this a toilet and then behind this a kitchen; in the centre, between the kitchen and worship space/loggia is a meeting room. There are no fittings and furnishings of special interest.
Architect: Not known for the original house (possibly the work of a speculative builder); extension by C. F. A. Voysey
Original Date: 1895
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: II