Sandringham Road, Hunstanton, PE36 5DR
The main church is rectangular brick structure of 1958, attached to an earlier building in Arts and Crafts style, erected in 1904 as the sacristy to an intended large church which was never realised. The 1950s building is unremarkable in itself but contains some interesting Edwardian and modern stained glass. Together the church and presbytery make a modest but positive contribution to a residential part of the Hunstanton Conservation Area.
The idea of developing Hunstanton as a seaside resort came from Henry le Strange of Hunstanton Hall. In 1861 he employed his friend the architect William Butterfield to lay out the central area, with irregular masses of buildings interspersed with open spaces, but in the event the main development in the 1870s was in conventional squares and terraces. Later in the nineteenth century development continued away from the seafront, with many large brick villas in substantial grounds. Le Strange gave sites for Anglican, Nonconformist and Catholic churches, the last of these on the eastern edge of the new resort. In 1904 ambitious designs were prepared for the Revd Ernest Garnett by the London architect George Carvill, for a large church in a free Arts and Crafts Gothic style, with a big tower. Carvill is not associated with any other Catholic churches, and the circumstances of his appointment are unclear. The scale of ambition in his design may have had something to do with the proximity of the Sandringham estate; many of Edward VII’s house guests were Catholics and the king was known to be not unsympathetic to the Catholic cause (as Prince of Wales he had supported the rebuilding of Our Lady of the Annunciation, King’s Lynn, qv). The builder was Mr T. Longstreeth of Overstrand. In the event only the sacristy was built, intended to serve temporarily as a church and seating about 120 people. This was opened by Bishop Riddell of Northampton in August 1904. A presbytery appears to have followed soon afterwards, but it was many years before the church could be completed, and then only to a much reduced scale and different design. This took place in 1958, with the addition of an unaisled nave at right angles to the original building, with a taller roofline carried across the 1904 building to form a new gable on the east side facing the road. The two-light windows from this side were re-set in the west end wall of the new addition.
There were internal alterations in 1965, and further alterations in 2015-16, when the original part of the building was made into a separate hall and the interior of the church was redecorated. As part of this work, the two-light windows from the west wall were restored to their original location on the east side and their place taken by two single-light windows from the north gable of the old building.
The church is not orientated; the liturgical east end faces to the west. The oldest part is the 1904 sacristy of the intended large church, which served as the church for half a century. This is of carrstone with a tiled roof and deep projecting eaves. At either end of the main east-facing facade is a doorway under a projecting hood on brackets. The central section has bold pilaster strips and two paired traceried windows under a prominent gable. Comparison with the architect’s drawing suggests that the gable is a later alteration, possibly made in 1958 when the nave was added. The north end wall of this part of the church now has a large carriage entrance but originally had two single-light windows, which have been moved to the end wall of the nave. The nave is of red brick laid in stretcher bond with a pitched tiled roof. The side walls have simple vertical rectangular windows with a wide double doorway on the north side. The west end wall has two single-light traceried windows, one in the end wall of the original sacristy. At the east end of the nave on the north side is a projecting sacristy.
The interior of the original sacristy is now a parish room, communicating with the nave by means of long folding doors. The church space is carpeted, with plain plastered walls and with the portal frames and roof purlins fully exposed. The roof is ceiled above the purlins. The westernmost bay of the nave is the sanctuary and is raised one step. The wall behind the altar has an arrangement of stepped round-headed panels, with a roundel of Our Lady in the head of the central panel. The timber altar and reredos (the latter with painted panels) have Art Nouveautracery decoration typical of the Edwardian period; they may be the ‘altar of fumed oak filled with sculptured panels’ mentioned in the 1904 account of the opening in The Tablet. The octagonal stone font at the east end of the nave presumably dates from the 1950s. The building has some interesting stained glass. The two windows behind the altar have good figures of Our Lady and St Edmund in an Arts and Crafts manner. In the south wall of the nave is a memorial window of 2008 to Nicholas Jackson, who trained as a dentist; it shows St Nicholas and St Apollonia, patron saint of dentists and those suffering from toothache. The window is signed PB. Next to it is a window by Paul Quail of the Blessed Virgin and St Edmund, installed in 1995.
Architect: G. B. Carvill
Original Date: 1903
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed