Seaward Avenue, Leiston, Suffolk, IP16 4BA
An economical portal-framed structure built as a chapel-of-ease to Aldeburgh in the early 1960s, in part to serve workers at the nearby Sizewell nuclear power station.
In 1920 Fr Delaney, mission priest at Aldeburgh, formed a sister mission at Leiston, with a repurposed army hut in Carr Avenue serving as a church. After the opening, Fr Delaney ‘congratulated the Leiston Catholics on that happy day; for there, under the shadow of the old ruins of Leiston Abbey, the sanctuary lamp was to be lit once again, for the first time since the Reformation, thus linking up with the days of Catholic England’ (The Tablet, 19 June 1920).
The foundation stone for the present church was laid by Bishop Parker of Northampton on 22 September 1963, and the bishop opened the church on 12 March 1964. Seating 200, it was built in part to serve the workers at the nearby Sizewell nuclear power station, construction of which had begun in 1961. The architects were Wearing & Hastings of Norwich, who had extended St Peter and St Paul, Aldeburgh (qv) and were responsible for a number of churches of similar character in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire about this time. A parish room addition was built in 1972. The church continues to be served from Aldeburgh.
The building is a 1960s portal framed structure mainly clad externally in brick under a clay pantile roof. It is of longitudinal plan and consists of an aisleless nave with slightly narrower sanctuary. An attached later parish room lies to one side. The side and rear elevations are faced in red brick, the entrance front in yellow brick with tall flint pebble panels at the sides. The entrance is placed centrally with a central ‘keystone’ of creased tiles, and above this is a three-light window, its head following the form of the roof. This and all the windows have been renewed in uPVC, with frosted glass. There are tall side lights to the sanctuary.
The interior is a single volume, with the portal frame and purlins exposed. The walls are of bare brick at the west end, in the walls enclosing the narrowing of the sanctuary and at dado level at the sides, and otherwise plastered. A marble foundation stone is set into the north wall of the nave. The carpeted sanctuary is lit from the sides by slender lights with pale yellow glass. The altar is a single stone block, probably the original one brought forward. Timber sanctuary furniture includes an octagonal font made by Harry Harvey in memory of his parents, 1987. On the other side is an oak statue of the Virgin and Child on a projecting corbel. The sturdy benches in the nave are probably original, their ends (like the altar) each incised with a cross.
Architect: Wearing & Hastings
Original Date: 1964
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed