Merle Avenue, Harefield, Middlesex UB9
An economically built mid-1960s church originally built as a dual-purpose church and hall, with later additions. The building is located in, but makes no great contribution to, a local conservation area.
Until the building of the present church Mass was said at the hospital of Harefield Hospital in a chapel shared with Anglicans. Later a British Legion hut was used. The present church was built as a dual-purpose church and parish hall, providing space for Sunday Mass and weekday activities, together with a small oratory (the architect was Austin Winkley, info. ex Chris Fanning, Diocesan Surveyor). It was soon afterwards extended with a sanctuary and a new presbytery by Broadbent, Hastings, Read & New of Twickenham. A separate parish hall and club room was built to the rear of the church in 1973-74 at a cost of c. £15,000, the materials to match the existing building (architects Burles, Newton & Partners). Later a further hall – a former commercial building – was bought for church use and lies at the rear of the 1970s hall.
The building is an economical structure, built of stock brick under flat roofs. The core is a rectangular space which formed the dual nave-hall area in the 1960s. Projecting from it and facing the road is the later polygonal sanctuary, marked out by a large, red brick cross set into the wall. The upper part of the frontage has artificial tile cladding. To the right is the entrance; to the left a chapel. Also on the right-hand side is a range with a meeting room, sacristy and kitchen: on the first floor is what was once a chapel. Over this area is a square open box which houses a single bell. The windows are a mixture of vertical and horizontal lights.
Inside, the building is remarkably dark due to the bare brick walling, a natural wood-coloured boarded ceiling, and a lack of windows: only the rear of the main space is well illuminated due to three top lights in the flat roof: artificial lighting is therefore essential when the building is in use. The sanctuary still retains the folding shutters that enabled it to be separated off when the nave was in secular use. On the left (facing the sanctuary) are two sets of plain shutters giving access to the kitchen area. In the chapel to the right of the sanctuary is some lurid red glass. There are no fittings or furnishings requiring notice.
Architect: Austin Winkley
Original Date: 1964
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed