Kentmere Avenue, Seacroft, Leeds 14
An Italian Romanesque design of 1960 by Desmond Williams, conservative for its date, but a local landmark which houses some furnishings of good quality, including sculptures by Michael Clark.
The parish was established in 1954 from the parish of St Theresa’s, Cross Gates, to serve the new Seacroft housing estate. The first services were held in a builders’ canteen, with the oven improvised for the altar, and then the newly-completed school hall was used while funds were raised for a permanent and more worthy church. Designs were prepared in 1957 by Desmond Williams of Arthur Farebrother & Partners, and the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Dwyer on 9 May 1959. The contractor was W. C. Birch (Harrogate and Wakefield). The Bishop opened the completed church on 13 June 1960. It originally seated about 450, with space for 50 more in the western gallery. More recently the seating capacity has been reduced by the subdivision of the nave to form a social area at the west end. The original plans are held in the diocesan archives.
Large church built in a plain Italian Romanesque style. Nave, narrow circulation aisles, sanctuary with shallow curved east end, tall campanile at northwest corner, sacristies etc giving off south side at west end. The church is built of light buff Leicestershire brick laid in stretcher bond, with red brick window arches, under a shallow pitched roof clad in Roman pantiles, manufactured in Barton upon Humber. The exterior is dominated by the tall campanile, of four stages, one round-arched opening to each of the lower three stages, then a cornice and three arched openings on each face of the upper stage; shallow pyramidal roof over this. Gabled west front with round-arched doorway surmounted by a statue of Our Lady of Good Counsel,1960 by Michael Clark, in Clipsham stone. Plain single-storey projections on either side of main entrance, originally housing electric room and baptistery. On the flank elevation, tall paired lancet clerestory windows to each of the five bays of the nave and two bays of the chancel (shorter paired openings on the south side, over the sacristy area). Flat -roofed aisles to north and south of nave, with one round-arched window per bay, and in addition confessionals and a southwest porch projecting on the south side. Apsidal roof over east end of chancel, and shallow curved blind east wall.
As originally designed the main west entrance led into a small narthex area under a western choir/organ gallery, and on into the main space of the nave. This latter space has more recently been vertically subdivided, with the main congregational space in the nave reduced from five bays to three. The gallery has been enclosed to form an upper room and the two western nave bays turned into a parish social area. The interior is mainly plastered. Suspended from the steel roof trusses is a flat fibrous plaster coffered ceiling, prefabricated in Liverpool in 4ft sections, and painted in rich colours. The windows have amber tinted glass imported from the continent. Shallow segmental arcading to the aisles, with reinforced concrete columns clad in green and gold (painted clear) mosaic. Terrazzo floor, with thermoplastic tiles beneath the (original) African walnut benches. The church was from the outset provided with underfloor electrical heating.
The sanctuary was originally furnished with an altar, altar rails and pulpit of Italian marble. The pulpit and central altar rails have been removed in a later reordering, but short sections of the original marble and mosaic altar rails survive in the flanking Sacred Heart and Lady Chapels. The dark green marble altar frontal is raised on three steps above the rest of the sanctuary and has a carved central panel of the Agnus Dei. Behind this, a coffered reredos and canopy, similar in design and construction to the nave ceiling, upon which is placed a large wooden crucifix, another work for the church by Michael Clark, 1960. Flat chancel ceiling. In front of the chancel steps, the tapering marble font with some inlaid mosaic around the base and domed cover is original, relocated from the western baptistery.
Architect: Arthur Farebrother & Partners
Original Date: 1959
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed