Flaxley Street, Cinderford, Gloucestershire GL14
The architecturally most ambitious of the four churches served from Coleford, this is a brick-built church of the late 1930s in a stripped Gothic style by a firm of Liverpool architects.
Until the opening of the present church, Mass was said at Courtfield, a house in Cinderford, and at a local hotel. Initial designs in 1938 were made by Roberts & Willman of Taunton (who had designed Coleford church, opened in 1933, as well as many other new churches built in the diocese during that decade) but these did not materialise. A mission, under Fr Michael O’Ryan and Fr Leech OMI, was established on 28 December 1938 at Lissamore, Belle Vue Road, where one of the rooms was turned into an oratory. A change of architects took place when the commission was taken over by Badger & Hutton of Liverpool. This was no doubt a decision of Fr O’Ryan, who was Provincial of the Anglo-Irish Province of Oblates and had been Superior at St Teresa, Norris Green in Liverpool. This church had been erected in 1937 to designs by F. E. G. Badger (who had been Director of Housing in Liverpool in the early 1920s). The builder was James Hayes of Cinderford. The foundation stone was laid on 30 April 1939 and the church was opened on 2 July 1939. It is believed that construction was done so rapidly because of the looming threat of war and how this might impact on such building schemes.
The presbytery was built in 1959-60 to designs by Egbert Leah. The church is one of four served from Coleford.
Directions given here are ritual. The church is built of light grey-brown brick with red brick detailing and Westmorland slate roofs; it is in a stripped Gothic style with Art Deco touches. It has a nave and sanctuary in one (with clerestory to the nave), windowless passage aisles, and a western narthex (flanked by a two projections, one for a storage area, the other for the former baptistery). Chapels are placed at the ends of the passage aisles. The west window is of three lights with broad, plain brick mullions. In the clerestory the lights are single with triangular heads.
Internally, the walls are of exposed brick except in the plastered aisles. In the nave area there are seven arches to each aisle under depressed pointed heads and with square brick piers. The ceiling is of plain plasterwork and is of pointed segmental form. The sanctuary begins as a physical continuation of the nave, its eastern part is set beyond a brick arch with a four-centred head. A plain reredos against the east wall replaces a more elaborate high altar and reredos, removed in post-Vatican II reordering.
Amongst the furnishings, the font is a curious piece about which, strangely, nothing seems to be known. It is octagonal and fifteenth-century in style, well-worn and with a metal hasp as if for securing a font cover (as was often the case in medieval times). However, the figures and the unusual iconography are not medieval. One panel (photo bottom right, above) shows the dove returning with the olive branch to Noah in his (very small) Ark, presumably a type of Baptism. Another shows two fiery bowls (Pentecost?) and a hand holding a wand or staff (Moses striking the rock?); another has a bush bearing some kind of fruit (Tree of Life?); another may show the Baptism of Christ.
Original Date: 1939
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed