St John's Road, March, Cambridgeshire PE15 8RJ
A small post-war brick church, concrete-framed and conventional in plan but well-detailed and forming a unified composition with the hall and presbytery flanking it on either side.
Soon after their arrival in March in 1908, Mr and Mrs Vanderweyden, a Dutch couple involved in the bulb-growing business, opened a chapel in a converted barn at the rear of their house in Wisbech Road. A mission was established in 1911, and a site in St John’s Road with two houses acquired for the building of a church. In the same year some adjoining land was acquired with an old brick granary building, which was converted to serve as a temporary church. One of the existing houses became the presbytery.
A curious 1935 design in the Diocesan Archives, for a small thatched church, suggests that the possibility of building a new church was mooted at that time, but nothing was done until after the arrival of Fr Gaffney in 1946. He raised the necessary funds and in 1949 designs for a new church, to be built alongside the old one, were obtained from the London firm of C.W. Glover & Partners. The foundation stone was laid in March 1952 and the church was opened on 19 May 1953.
In 1981 the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary established a convent in March and built presbytery, before moving to Princes Road five years later.
The church is not orientated; the liturgical east end faces north. All directions in the following description are liturgical.
The church was built in 1952 from designs by C.W. Glover of London. Externally it is in a stripped classical style, and comprises a tall nave under a pitched roof with flat-roofed side aisles, a west porch and a short sanctuary. It has a concrete portal frame, the walls clad externally with buff-coloured brick laid in Flemish bond, with roof coverings of tiles. At the west end a large round-headed window is set above a gabled porch. The main gable above the window has corbel-brackets. To either side of the west front the blind end walls of the aisles form low wings linking the church visually on the left to a hall (in the old church, entered via a modern link building with crow-stepped gable alongside) and on the right to the presbytery. The side elevations are of four bays, with small rectangular windows in the side aisles and tall round-headed windows in the nave walls above. A short sanctuary has a pitched tiled roof and walls of Fletton bricks with two round-headed windows at each side and a blind east end.
Inside, the portal frame is fully exposed in the nave, with the principal members carried up to the apex of the roof. The walls are faced with brown brick, the roof has timber boarding on the underside and the floor is carpeted. The flat-roofed side aisles are set behind the concrete piers of the main portal frame and the nave has a timber west gallery. The clerestorey windows are all clear glazed, but the aisle windows have some stained glass. A wide pointed brick arch opens from the nave to the sanctuary, which is raised two steps above the nave and also has a timber-lined ceiling. The windows in the sanctuary are clear glazed with coloured borders. Most of the furnishings, including the timber benches and the reredos, appear to date from 1953 or later, although the altar from the old church was placed in the north aisle as the altar of repose. The interior suffered some damage from an accidental fire in 2000 and some of the furnishings may have been renewed after that.
Architect: C.W. Glover & Partners
Original Date: 1953
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed