Hartsbourne Avenue, Gateacre, Liverpool 25
The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is an accomplished and unified design of the 1960s by the Liverpool architects L. A. G. Prichard. The plan form, roof structure and natural lighting design are closely integrated to produce a building that both functions well and is spiritually uplifting. Less ambitious than other buildings by the same practice, it is a successful and individual modernist design.
The Catholic Record of 29 May 1949 records that a new prefabricated church had recently been opened at Belle Vale. This is the date given in the Archdiocesan Directory for the present church, designed by L. A. G. Prichard and Son, but the existing building is not prefabricated, and must therefore be a later replacement, probably early-mid 1960s considering the style of the building and its similarity to other churches by the same architects. The Belle Vale and Childwall estates were developed from the 1950s onwards.
The church dates from the 1960s and was designed by the interesting Liverpool architects L. A. G. Prichard and Sons. It is surprisingly ambitious for this overspill suburban site, and as with many of Prichard’s designs, its form derives from a strong planning concept. Here, the plan is half of an octagon, with the long side providing the setting for the High Altar, whilst the seating is arranged in five banks of pews parallel with the other five perimeter walls.
Externally, the long east wall is of blank brickwork, whilst the five shorter perimeter walls are fully glazed above an exposed aggregate reinforced concrete ring beam. The roof takes the form of a half folded fan, clad in copper, with a thin, partly glazed fleche at the intersecting point of the octagon. The entrance is via a brick and concrete porch on the west side, which also houses ancillary facilities, and leads to a narthex with views into the worship space. Above the narthex is a choir gallery.
The worship space is brightly and effectively lit by the tall perimeter windows filled with tinted glass, and the shaft of light that falls from the fleche to illuminate the High Altar. The plan provides for close contact between the clergy and the congregation. The sanctuary was reordered in 2003 and many of the original furnishings have been replaced. The circular font of carved stone on a black marble base and the pews remain.
Architect: L. A. G. Prichard and Sons
Original Date: 1965
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed