St Albans Road, Hemel Hempstead, Herts HP3
A modern church of 1987 with integral hall. The church is roughly square on plan and laid out on the diagonal, with a stained glass window at the end of the main axis. It replaced an earlier church built for the New Town in the 1950s.
Hemel Hempstead was designated a New Town after the Second World War. The first area to be developed was Adeyfield, to the east, with the first residents moving in during 1950. HM The Queen laid the foundation stone of the Anglican church here in 1952. Here also a Catholic church was built in 1956, on a site overlooking the St Albans Road (A414), from designs by Archard & Partners. Described by The Buildings of England (where the architect is incorrectly given as C. A. B. Gowers) as ‘a little livelier than most of the other new churches’ in the new town, the church was cruciform in plan, with a central fleche, reinforced concrete frame and clad in red brick. Its chief internal feature was a 40 ft mural behind the high altar, depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, by R. J. Lloyd (illustrated in CBR, 1958, 83). A presbytery was also built, the combined cost of the buildings being £40,000.
By the 1980s the building had begun to deteriorate, and was also increasingly expensive to heat. It was demolished and replaced with a new brick church, designed by Derek Plummer of Derek Plummer Associates, Richmond (Associate Office: Watkinson & Cosgrave, surveyors of Kentish Town). The old presbytery remains.
A large structure, combining a church to the east and an integral parish hall to the west. The building is clad in dark red bricks, and has a concrete pantile pitched roof. The building is lit by windows in the splayed corners and at the centre, where they are recessed within an open pedimented gable. An entrance narthex in the centre on the south side leads into the church hall (left) and church (right). The church interior is more or less square on plan, arranged on the diagonal. It has plastered walls and a boarded timber roof. There is a fine organ (the priest who had the church rebuilt had been Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral) and behind the high altar is a large dalle de verre window depicting Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, with the Christ child (from the studio at Buckfast Abbey, according to Chris Fanning).
Architect: Derek Plummer Associates
Original Date: 1987
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed