Belmont Road, Hereford, HR2 7JR
A modern design and build structure of traditional basilican character, not of special architectural interest but with a light and bright interior containing furnishings which contribute to a prayerful atmosphere.
In 1954 Archbishop McGrath of Cardiff decided that a new parish should be established in Hereford, south of the River Wye. This would be served by the Vincentians. The site chosen would be that of Poole House in Belmont Road, which had been acquired in 1949 by Belmont Abbey. Initially the house served as a school and presbytery, with the billiard room fitted up to serve as a chapel. This was followed by a separate dual-purpose church and hall, dedicated to Our Lady Queen of the Universe, which was built from designs by F. R. Bates & Son and opened in August 1957. In the event this appears to have been used exclusively as a church, and a World War II Nissan hut was later acquired to serve as a parish hall.
In 1980 Poole House and some of the land was sold for a housing development, releasing funds for the building of a presbytery, from designs by Nigel Dees of McLennan, Johnson & Blight of Hereford. In 1989 the Vincentians withdrew, and the Benedictines from Belmont assumed the care of the parish. The congregation grew, and plans were prepared to enlarge the 1950s church-hall. However, this did not prove to be cost effective, so designs for a new church were obtained from Stone Ecclesiastical, a design and build firm. After consultation with the parish, a traditional basilican design was adopted. Following successful fundraising (including donations from Sir Paul Getty – who gave £100,000 – and the Prince of Wales), the foundation stone for the new church – which had been blessed by Pope John Paul II – was laid by Archbishop Ward of Cardiff on 21 January 1996. The completed church, dedicated to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, was opened in September and consecrated on 21 November 1996. The old church-hall became a parish social club.
The church is a traditional design of loosely basilican character, built from designs by Stone Ecclesiastical in 1996. It is externally faced in coarse blocks of reconstituted stone or blockwork with red brick trim, under concrete pantile roofs. It is rectangular on plan, with a triple arched brick porch-narthex and a parish room giving off the liturgical south side. Windows are arched, with a circular opening high in the central gable at the front. To the left of the narthex, a foundation stone blessed by Pope John Paul II is set into the wall.
The interior is a light and bright space, with plastered white walls, an exposed scissor truss roof and an apsidal east end. Dominating the apse is a large painted mural of Christ in Majesty by Sandy Elliott, inspired perhaps by Romanesque illuminated manuscripts. Around the walls, four consecration crosses painted by Andrew Jamieson bear portraits of Herefordshire martyrs. Stained glass in the church was designed by Hardman of Birmingham and made by Round Windows: those on the north side depict Saints Romuald, Dominic Barberi, Josemaria Escriva and Padre Pio. At the west end are a circular window of Our Lady of Sorrows and, over the entrance, St Joseph the Worker with a model of the church. The hanging pyx in front of the altar and statues of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart came from Bartestree Convent, while the pews came from the old church. The Stations of the Cross were acquired from Hayes & Finch in 2000. In the Lady Chapel is a copy of Giovanni Battista Salvi’s Uffizi painting of Our Lady of Sorrows, formerly in the Sardinian Embassy in London and given to the new church by Alan and Eileen Panario.
Architect: Stone Ecclesiastical
Original Date: 1996
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed