Amersham Hill, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
An example of the late 20th century Gothic style, infused with Classical elements, which was favoured by the architect J. Sebastian Comper and his more famous father Sir Ninian Comper. The interior with its broad nave arcades is spacious and the arched stone choir gallery at the west end is striking, but the original character has been altered by the conversion of the clerestorey space above the nave into a parish room, cutting out much of the natural light, and also by some re-ordering which has removed features such as the ciborium over the former high altar.
The first Catholic mission to High Wycombe started in 1889 with a house chapel in the High Street. A church in Castle Street opened in 1894. The present building was erected in 1957, from designs by J.S. Comper, one of a large number of churches built in the Diocese by that architect in the post-war years. More recently a parish room has been formed in the upper part of the nave and various minor alterations have been made to the building and its surroundings.
The church is in what was described at the time of building as a ‘Modified Perpendicular’ Gothic style. The walls are faced with light-brown local bricks with windows and dressings of cast stone; the coverings of the shallow-pitched nave roof were originally of copper. The plan of the church comprises a six-bay nave with aisles and a southwest porch. The west end facing the road has a wide five-light traceried window. Beneath was originally the main entrance door with an elaborate ogee- headed surround; this has now been converted to a window. On the north and south elevations the bay divisions are marked by pilaster strips, with ‘Y’-traceried windows in both aisles and clerestorey. The west bay of the south aisle has a large projecting porch, possibly converted from a baptistery, while the third bay from the west has a doorway beneath the aisle window. At the west end of the north aisle the roof is surmounted by an enclosure which contains the lift overrun for the upper room.
The interior of the church is broad and low, with north and south arcades of six bays of chamfered pointed arches on octagonal stone columns. The walls are of painted brick. Both nave and aisles now have flat trabeated ceilings. At the west end of the nave is a stone choir gallery in 17th century style, supported on a triple arcade with Doric columns and heavy bracket supports; the gallery itself it enclosed by a handrail on turned balusters. At the east end was originally a ciborium over the high altar but this has been removed, presumably because it did not fit under the inserted floor, and the sanctuary is now a simple space with modern altar and two rectangular windows in the east wall filled with Bossanyi-like stained glass. The Lady Chapel on the south side of the chancel has a decorative painted ceiling. The windows of the church are clear-glazed with bottle glass; the upholstered chair seating is modern.
Architect: J. Sebastian Comper
Original Date: 1957
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed