Finch Lane, Little Chalfont, Bucks
A plain design of the 1960s, lent some distinction by the somewhat New England-style western portico and shingled spirelet.
Little Chalfont originally grew along the line of the London to Aylesbury coach road, and expanded after the arrival in the late nineteenth century of the Metropolitan railway line. Growth accelerated after the Second World War, and Mass was said from 1948 in houses in Village Way, notably in Puck’s Thatch, the home of Mrs Angus-Yule, whose studio of St Charles Borromeo produced and restored liturgical vestments.
In 1949 Fr Leonard Tomlinson was appointed parish priest at Chesham Bois, where he enlarged that church in 1953 and built the new church of St Columba at Chesham in 1960. In Little Chalfont the numbers attending Mass had grown to the extent that it was necessary to hire the village hall, where attendance averaged about 200 in the 1950s. In 1958 Fr Tomlinson set up a development fund for a new church to serve Little Chalfont and Amersham. The site in Finch Lane was acquired for £1,516 10s in 1961, and in 1963 plans for the new church were provisionally approved by Amersham Rural District Council. The architect was A. Hodsdon Archard, who lived nearby in Chalfont St Giles, and who also designed the church at Chesham (and possibly carried out the alterations at Chesham Bois). Messrs Abbiss & Hale of Rickmansworth submitted the lowest tender (£28,198, including the sacristy but excluding the presbytery, which would be built later). Work started on clearing the site in October 1963, the foundation stone was laid by Bishop Parker on 11 April 1964 and the completed church was opened by the bishop on 28 February 1965. The church was designed to seat 250-60, and the final cost was £38,000.
The church is orientated north-south, but this description follows conventional orientation, i.e. as if the altar faced east. It is of concrete portal frame construction, externally clad in brick. The roof was covered with grey-green precast interlocking tiles, as used by Archard & Partners at their church at Erith. It consists of western portico and narthex, nave with western gallery and narrow circulatory aisles, short transepts and a square-ended chancel. A sacristy links the south transept and sanctuary with the presbytery.
The west front has a tetrastyle portico of brick piers with plain bases and imposts, carrying an entablature and open pediment with vertical boarding. Above the portico is a spirelet clad in shingles. Within the portico there are three upper windows over the central entrance, lighting the west gallery. The side elevations to the nave have tall rectangular metal windows containing rectangular leaded panes; three such windows light the transepts and there is a single window on each side of the chancel. The east wall is windowless.
The interior forms a single space, dominated by the bay rhythm of the tapering reinforced concrete piers of the portal frame. There is no division between the nave and chancel, but on the south side the short transept has been glazed in to form a separate chapel. There is a plain front to the western gallery, which is accessed from a stair in the entrance vestibule. The communion rail remains in situ, and the tapering octagonal font has been relocated to the sanctuary. The marble altar is presumably original, possibly brought forward. The nave seating consists of benches.
Architect: Archard & Partners
Original Date: 1965
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed