London Road, Kettering, Northants
St Edward’s church is in that strand of longitudinally-planned interwar brick churches of bold forms and massing and simplified detailing. It is a church of some character and merit, with a relatively unaltered interior. Its short blocky tower and adjoining tall gabled presbytery form a striking group on the edge of the Kettering Town Centre Conservation Area.
During penal times Kettering Catholics journeyed some fifteen miles north to the chaplain of the Nevell’s of Nevill Holt Hall. Following the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy a mission was established in Wellingborough in 1871, accessible by train from Kettering. In 1881, the convert Charlotte Anne, Duchess of Buccleugh, gave £2,600 towards the establishment of a mission for Kettering itself, and Mass was said at Tyrell’s Temperance Hotel in the Market Place on 20 September 1891. The presbytery, in The Grove, was completed in June 1892 and the first church (now the church hall, a modest red brick building with round arched windows), was completed in 1893. This building was not intended as a permanent church and was superseded by the present, much larger church, in 1940, designed to seat 380 and costing £11,000.
The altar faces west but in the following description all references to compass points will be taken as if the church was of conventional orientation with the altar facing east. St Edward’s church is in that strand of traditional interwar brick churches of bold forms and massing and simplified detailing. The pointing of the brickwork is recessed creating the effect of continuous brickwork. The London Road frontage has a broad and imposing tower of rectangular plan, stepped in at its upper stage and with an integral cross. The entrance is recessed within seven stepped round arches and is flanked by single small lancet windows. Above is a group of three tall and slender windows, with single window versions to north and south. All windows in the church have semi-circular arches and are completely plain and unmoulded. The sides of the church have three-bay aisles, stepping down to additional western bays and to side chapels at the eastern end. The west end of the south aisle provides a second entrance (the one generally used). The church has a clerestory with windows in groups of three. Aisles and porch have parapets concealing the roofs, whilst the main roof is covered in pantiles, though at the western and eastern ends the brickwork is taken up to parapets. The sanctuary is defined by taller windows, once more in a group of three and the easternmost bay is set back and stepped in elevation.
The internal walls are plastered and the interior of the church is again striking in its simple bold forms, three round arches to the aisles, a similar but larger western arch, incorporating a gallery over the narthex, and two matching arches in the sanctuary. Similar transverse arches span the aisles. The arch form is echoed in the reredos against the east wall, rising to full height and simply modelled. Only in the arcades between sanctuary and south chapel, organ gallery and in the clerestory windows are there columns with elemental cushion capitals. The arches are repeated in the narthex, separating the southwest porch and the northwest baptistery. The font is of stone, ten sided and with alabaster colonnettes. It is older than the church and must have been brought from elsewhere, perhaps from the 1893 church. The ceiling is plain plastered, stepped, and has eight wooden extract vents of quite complex design. The main altar, brought forward as part of the post-Vatican II reordering, has massive fluted supports. There is stained glass throughout the church, much of it set within white glass borders. The artists are not identified. The floor of the nave and aisles is of polished wood in a chequerboard design. There are pews contemporary with the church in the nave and chairs in the aisles.
Architect: E. Bower Norris
Original Date: 1940
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed