Building » Nottingham (Hucknall) – Holy Cross

Nottingham (Hucknall) – Holy Cross

Watnall Road, Hucknall, Nottinghamshire NG15

An unremarkable brick and concrete portal frame church of the late 1950s, which is however notable for some fine modern stained glass by Joseph Nuttgens and Patrick Reyntiens.

Coal mining began in the Hucknall area in 1861, leading to an influx of workers from Ireland as well as surrounding collieries. A Catholic mission was established in 1879, when Mass was said in a small room in Whyburn Street. In 1886 a school was built on Carlingford Road, on land given by Mr and Mrs James Hanlon. The school building cost about £500, mainly met by Major Worswick, owner of the neighbouring collieries at Annesley. A church and presbytery were built in Carlingford Road at the same time, largely through the generosity of Mr and Mrs O’Hanlon, who gave the land and met two thirds of the cost of the church (£1,500). The church seated about 110. In 1906 a mortuary chapel was built for the Hanlon family.

Continuing expansion in the twentieth century meant that the parish outgrew the Carlingford Road church, and some time after 1945 a two-acre site was acquired in Watnall Road, with a view to building a new and larger church, presbytery and school. The foundation stone of the new church, built from designs by Reynolds & Scott of Manchester, was laid by Bishop Ellis on 3 May 1959. The contractors were the local builders, Bodill and Sons. A visitor from Denmark who had asked for Mass to be said in the church for Lord Byron (buried in the Anglican churchyard at Hucknall) paid for the mosaic over the front door, depicting the arms of the monks of Newstead Abbey.

The old church in Carlingford Road was retained as a hall, but is now in community use. A portakabin structure behind the church now serves as the parish hall.


The church consists of a western narthex, nave, raised chancel, Lady Chapel, baptistery, confessionals and sacristies. The contemporary presbytery lies to the north. A campanile originally intended at the west end was not built, no doubt due to cost but possibly also because of concerns about the effects of subsidence on the site (Catholic Building Review, 1958). The church is built on a reinforced concrete foundation and with a portal frame construction, to offset the effect of subsidence. It is built of red brick with reconstituted stone dressings and a slate roof. Its style is modern, with Gothic references. The west front has a mosaic over the oak entrance doors with the arms of Newstead Abbey, and above this a tall mullion and transom window rising up to the apex of the gable. Set back on either side are double height porches, also gabled and with mosaic panels over the entrances. On the flank south elevation the bays are marked by recessed panels, with tall paired windows with canted heads in each bay. The north elevation has the Lady Chapel, baptistery and other structures built against it, the Lady Chapel being  taller, with high level glazing and a segmental curved end wall. At the east end, the chancel is raised and has the appearance of a squat tower; it is lit by tall mullion and transom windows.

The narthex has an organ gallery over it, reached by a wooden stair in the south porch area. The main space is unaisled, the bay divisions marked by the concrete portal frame. The walls of the nave are plastered and painted white. The green painted chancel is narrower, and separated from the nave by a four centred chancel arch. The functional qualities of the interior are relieved by a distinguished set of furnishings, particularly stained glass. These include:

  • The great east window depicting Christ crucified in majesty, by Joseph Nuttgens, 1959
  • Abstract stained glass panels in the high level windows of the Lady Chapel by Patrick Reyntiens, 1959
  • Baptistery windows by Joseph Nuttgens, 2002
  • Marble altar in the Lady chapel (from the old church)
  • Original communion rails with mosaic panels similar to those over the main entrances
  • High relief painted Stations of the Cross, from the old church
  • Carved and painted wooden figures of angels placed on the gallery front, of unknown provenance.
Heritage Details

Architect: Reynolds & Scott

Original Date: 1958

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed