Building » Leicester – St Joseph

Leicester – St Joseph

Uppingham Road, Leicester LE5

A  centrally-planned circular building of striking architectural form built soon after the Second Vatican Council, on a prominent site.  The spacious circular interior is finished to a high standard and is a good example of the period (comparable examples being the Catholic parish church at Leyland, Lancashire, and the Metropolitan Cathedral at Liverpool). The stained glass installed in 2002 enhances the dramatic quality of the internal space.

The site for the church was given in the 1930s by F. J. Bradford, a Leicester builder and a Catholic. The parish was created in 1938 and a church hall was built in the early 1950s. The hall served also as a church until the new church was erected in the late 1960s, at the instigation of Fr James Leahy. The brief was for a building to seat about 700  people, and the cost was approximately £107,000. A circular plan was chosen to allow the congregation to be as near as possible to the main altar, and to maintain a good-sized area for external landscaping and avoid being too close to the existing church hall.


The body of the church is a drum with an overall diameter of 80ft, of reinforced concrete construction faced with Stamford stone buff brick, with slit windows and a clerestorey set back behind the plain parapet under a shallow-pitched roof.  On the Uppingham Road side is a slim 80ft bell tower  faced with golden quartzite and flanked by the main entrances, which are incorporated into glazed timber enclosures with swept copper-covered roofs which contain the stairs to the internal gallery.

Internally, a curved glazed screen under the gallery forms what is in effect a narthex, with seating originally intended for parents with small children. The narthex also contains a small square baptistery space on axis with the tower.  The walls are of bare-faced brick with the concrete frame exposed. An inner ring of concrete columns supports the roof, which has laminated timber beams and a varnished pine ceiling. The floor of the main church space is Claytile and Granwood paving. The gallery front is vertical oak slats and the gallery contains a handsome modern organ in a traditional-style case. The sanctuary is raised on two polished stone steps. It was altered in 2000, when the white stone fittings came from the chapel of the Convent Hospital in Nottingham. The altar is therefore a replacement for the original one, which was a rectangular block of Ancaster stone. Behind this is a low stone wall at the rear of the sanctuary topped by a screen of timber verticals. The font and the timber benches appear to be original. The dramatic impact of the interior has been greatly increased by the stained glass by Harry Cardross of Goddard & Gibbs, installed in the narthex under the gallery in 2002.

The church was listed Grade II in 2015, following Taking Stock. List description at

Heritage Details

Architect: Thomas E. Wilson

Original Date: 1967

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II