Connaught Road, East Cowes, Isle of Wight
One of three post-war churches in the diocese by C.A.F. Sheppard of Ryde. A pleasant building but not of particular architectural distinction.
A mission was established in East Cowes in 1906, largely owing to the presence of the Naval College at Osborne. A tin church was erected on the present site in Connaught Road in 1906, replaced in 1923 by a modest brick building (demolished by German bombardment in 1942). A presbytery was built in 1932, from designs by W. C. Mangan. In 1945-6 the present hall was built, by Newport architect Mr Aldridge, with the intention that the church could be built on top of it at a later date. This happened in 1951-2 when the present church, by Cyril Sheppard, architect of Ryde, was built.
The church is essentially of rectangular form with wire-cut brick walls under a plain concrete-tiled roof, gabled at either end. There is a modest widening at the liturgical east end. The basement hall is rendered and buttresses divide it into three bays each with a semi-circular headed window with stepped surround. Three similar window openings light the nave above and there are smaller, higher level windows lighting the sanctuary. The church is set on the steeply sloping hillside such that the entrance façade is set just a few steps above the level of Connaught Road. The windows to the hall have been replaced in uPVC whilst those above have painted metal frames with glazing bars, elegantly following the curve of the arch. The entrance front is gabled with paired entrance doors with stepped jambs forming a bold recess and effectively a porch, the whole with a projecting concrete frame. Similar frames to the tall narrow windows to either side and symmetrical arrangement of five windows above.
The interior is dominated by three pierced concrete trusses, like cruck frames, which support the roof. The liturgical east wall is of exposed brick in a tripartite arrangement of pointed arches, the centre opening to the sanctuary, the lower flanking arches blind but incorporating doors to vestries. Liturgical west gallery over an internal porch and service rooms. The seating is a mix of modern upholstered chairs and Victorian pine pews from the chapel at the Convent of the Cross, Springhill. Reordering of the sanctuary took place around 1981, though the unusual glass communion rails were not removed to storage until 1990. The Stations of the Cross, pinnacled Gothic designs, must have been brought from elsewhere. A restoration and repair programme took place in 1994. At the time of opening the County Press considered the church ‘spacious and well designed’ and commented upon the concrete arches and the glass altar rails.
Architect: C. A. F. Sheppard
Original Date: 1951
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed