A large early 1960s church by Reynolds & Scott, on a traditional longitudinal plan with some modern Gothic detailing and a powerful ‘westwerk’.
In 1950 Corby was designated a New Town and it was not long before the expanding town required additional Catholic churches. Proposals for St Brendan’s were certainly advanced by 1960 when Reynolds & Scott’s design was illustrated in the Catholic Building Review. Interestingly, although of comparable size to what was later built, the illustration shows a church of more traditional design and with tower and transepts at the eastern end. The presbytery was built in 1963, also from designs by Reynolds & Scott.
St Brendan’s faces west but for the purposes of this description all compass points will be given as if the altar faced conventionally east. The church is largely of brick with tiled roofs and comprises a clerestoried nave, narrower sanctuary, and a ‘westwerk’ of tower flanked by tall transept-like wings and polygonal baptistery on the north side. The west tower is gabled on all four sides but as there are long and short sides an unusual pyramidal roof form results. The east, south and north sides of the tower are blank but the west front has a broad full-height window taking up about half of the façade. The same ‘slot’ below incorporates the glazed entrance and is divided from above by a shallow gabled canopy. To either side are transept-like projections, gables to north and south, with stacks of four, square, windows in concrete surrounds. The side elevations of the nave are quite busy with slots in the brick walls in which are set the windows. These windows continue up into the clerestory, which is mostly arranged in groups of three windows separated by panels of mosaic. On the north side three lower projections, including the polygonal baptistery, interrupt the clarity of the elevation. On the south side there is a southwest door of great height and with a canopy of shallow saw tooth design. Towards the eastern end single-storey buildings form a link between church and presbytery. The sanctuary has tall mullioned windows of two lights and a distinctive clerestory arranged in the spandrels between a flat arch and a gable below.
The interior is an impressively large space with lots of light. The concrete portal frame trusses are exposed and the volume is open to the ridge of the roof. Four-centred sanctuary arch. Lower arch against the east wall forming a recess. Contemporary altar (brought forward), ambo and wooden reredos and ciborium. The west end opens to a gallery (with organ), continuing the roof profile of the nave but narrower. Narthex below. The great west window is filled by an enormous stained glass image of the Virgin and child in a burst of sunlight, signed Theodore Kern, 1962, Hitchin. Kern was Austrian and better known as a sculptor. In the former baptistery is a large pieta, older than the church and evidently imported. Side chapel, on the north side, with contemporary altar. The main church pews are also contemporary with the church.
Architect: Reynolds & Scott
Original Date: 1962
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed