Mill Lane, Dunmow, Essex CM6
A modern dual-purpose church and hall of utilitarian design.
The first church, dedicated to The Immaculate Heart of Mary, was a small mission chapel located further up Mill Lane, built by Fr Charles King in 1853. This was variously served from Chelmsford, Witham, Ware, Ongar and Braintree until 1913, when the first resident priest arrived. The parish was canonically erected in 1918.
In the early 1950s a presbytery was built at the lower end of Mill Lane, on a large site acquired from the local Wilson family for a nominal sum of £500. Fundraising for a new church began soon after the appointment of Fr Kelly in 1954 but it was not until 1967, under Fr J. Harden, that sufficient funds were raised for plans to be drawn up. These were prepared by G. R. Fordham of O’Neill & Fordham, Chelmsford, and envisaged an innovative design on a pentagonal plan. A fixed price tender of just under £25,000 was obtained, but the plans were rejected by the diocese, presumably on grounds of cost. Fr B. Drea, appointed parish priest in 1968, oversaw the construction of the present building, designed as a dual-purpose church and hall, and built at a cost of £15,000. This was opened by Bishop Casey in 1971. The new church was dedicated to Our Lady and Saint Anne Line, the latter an Essex-born Elizabethan martyr who had been canonised by Pope Paul VI in 1970. The church was altered in 1984, when the sanctuary was moved to the east and a new entrance formed on the rear elevation.
The building is of plain modern design; a cross mounted on the wall facing the road is the only outward sign that this is a place of worship. Above this, a raised top light indicates the original position of the sanctuary. The building is clad in brick and plastic weatherboarding, and has a flat roof. Inside, the present sanctuary is placed on the east side of the building and the former sanctuary area to the south is now a transept. Folding doors in front of the transept indicate the original multi-purpose function, with provision for screening off the sanctuary. Gently curving laminated beams span the nave roof. There are some furnishings and fittings from the old church, none of special note.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1971
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed