New Parks Boulevard, Leicester LE3
Built in the mid-1950s to serve the new housing estates on the west side of Leicester, this is a good example of 1950s ecclesiastical architecture. While the exterior is unassuming, the interior is of considerable architectural quality, with a series of tall parabolic arches defining the bays of the nave. The interior is relatively little altered and contains a number of original furnishings of note.
A mission was established in Glenfield in 1947 by Fr Gilleran from St Peter’s, Leamington Street. The area was then just beginning to be developed for housing and it was resolved to build a new church. The building was designed to seat 400 and was opened in October 1957. The architects were Reynolds & Scott of Manchester. The contract price was £32,400.
When Canon Bernard Allen became parish priest in 1964 he built a presbytery and parish hall (1967) and also reordered the east end of the church. In 1975 the debt on the church was finally paid off and the building was consecrated and also redecorated and the altar crucifix installed. At the same time the church hall was extended in matching style by Reynolds & Scott.
Reynolds & Scott’s church has a family likeness to other 1950s churches by them in the diocese. All are faced in buff-coloured brick with dressings of artificial stone, broadly conventional in plan and make imaginative use of the arch inside. Mother of God church has a long nave with a pitched roof covered in slate, partly aisled on both sides with squat stair towers with hipped roofs at the west end of each aisle. The aisles are windowless and have lean-to roofs. Above them in the clerestorey are slit windows in groups of three. East of the aisles on the south side is a small flat roofed baptistery, and long flat-roofed sacristy. On the north side are two small flat-roofed side chapels. The sanctuary is contained in a broad saddleback tower at the east end of the nave with a shallow blind apsidal projection on its eastern face.
The interior is a dramatic surprise. A series of tall parabolic arches defines the nave space, with unmoulded semi-circular arches in the side walls between them leading to the narrow circulation aisles. At the west end is a solid gallery with a narthex beneath which opens into the nave through a central round-headed door flanked by wide round-headed windows. The sanctuary is a tall space rising into the eastern tower and with richly-coloured leaded lights in the windows. Opening off the south aisle is a small baptistery which still contains the font, standing on a marble pavement and enclosed by rails. Opening off the north aisle are two side chapels with marble pavements and mosaic enrichment behind the altar. The sanctuary is also paved with marble, with marble communion rails and pulpit. The painted wooden canopy originally over the high altar is still in place, though the marble altar was brought forward in 1964. The light fittings on the side walls are not original, but are wholly in keeping with the character of the interior. The nave benches are original.
Architect: Reynolds & Scott
Original Date: 1957
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed