Crown Rise, Garston, Watford, Hertfordshire WD25
A late 1950s church built with a conventional longitudinal plan, typical of Catholic churches of the time. An original campanile has been demolished. The church has a light, welcoming interior but does not possess special architectural interest.
A Mass Centre was established from 1950 at the Three Horseshoes public house in Garston and in August 1954 it was moved to the unfinished science block at St Michael’s School. A parish was established on 8 December the same year. The present church and presbytery were built in 1956-58 from designs by Archard & Partners, on a large site near the recently built Catholic Secondary School. The church accommodated over 400 people. The church hall and parish centre were designed in 1972 by Denny & Bryan of Watford and built in 1973-75; these were replaced by a new parish centre in c.2002 (architect D. W. Aitken), when the original tower and belfry, which were suffering from concrete corrosion (shown, but not as built, in figure 1) were removed (information from Chris Fanning). The sanctuary and side chapels have been recently (2012) reordered by James Keegan.
The church is constructed with a steel frame, clad with light brown brick under a red tile roof; it is designed in a functional modern style, very typical of a many Catholic churches of around 1960. It is traditionally planned, with a nave, passage aisles and a sanctuary (narrower than the nave). The aisles are low and there is a tall clerestory with four three-light windows with plain concrete mullions. The design of the other windows is similar, with ten lights to the window over the entrance, and nine to the windows either side of the sanctuary. There is no window behind the high altar. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is placed north of the sanctuary, the Lady Chapel south of it. Confessionals are placed alongside the left-hand aisle.
Inside, a glazed narthex screen below a gallery is etched with figures of angels. The walls are plastered and whitened apart from that behind the high altar which is coloured red. The circular columns between the nave and aisles are covered with multi-coloured tile tesserae. Flats ceilings cover the nave, sanctuary and aisles. The sanctuary and side chapels have furnishings by James Keegan, including limestone altars, and new floor finish, a retable and tabernacle plinth with marble cladding. A credence table, pulpit and font were also added to his designs. The stained glass windows in the side chapels were reconstructed from salvaged glass from the convent of Jesus and Mary, Harlesden, to designs by Matthew Lloyd Winder (information from Chris Fanning).
Original Date: 1956
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed