Building » Mere – St Mary

Mere – St Mary

Pettridge Lane, Mere, Wiltshire BA12

A small church converted from a Nissen hut shortly after the Second World War, with furnishings said to have come from one of the chapels at Fonthill Abbey.

From 1932, Mass was said in Mere in a variety of locations. In July 1942, the Diocesan Trustees purchased two plots in Boars Lane for £100. In August 1944, part of the land was let to Wiltshire County Council. The present site was given by Mrs Glencross, a former resident of Mere, in memory of a son killed in the war. In 1945, the architect Alex French of Bristol prepared plans for the conversion of a former Nissen hut to form a small chapel. This was opened by Bishop Lee on 18 August 1946, and was the first church to be built in the diocese since 1939. 

Major repairs became necessary in 1950. The church was initially served by the chaplains of St Mary’s Convent, Shaftesbury, and later from Wincanton (from 1970) and Warminster (from 2006). It is now again served from Wincanton


The church faces southwest. This description follows conventional liturgical orientation.

The church is a converted Nissen hut, with walls of curved corrugated metal sheets. The west (brick and render) and east (brick, with a small flat-roofed WC block) elevations date from the time of the conversion. The interior is lit by four dormer windows on each side. The west entrance set into a brick arch, while the outer arch is rendered. Above the door is statue of the Virgin Mary on a corbel. The door and the windows have been replaced in uPVC. 

The interior is very simple, a single volume with a panelled roof following the curvature of the Nissen hut, of three bays for the nave and sanctuary with a one-bay sacristy to the east. There is a timber altar with a panel of the Last Supper fixed to the frontal (photo above), and timber altar rails with barley sugar columns. The seating consists of open-backed benches. According to the Wiltshire History website, the altar and Stations of the Cross (also of timber) came from the chapel at Fonthill Abbey. This probably relates to the house of that name designed by William Burn for the Grosvenor family, which lay next to the site of William Beckford’s famous abbey. It had come down to the Catholic Shaw-Stuart family, and after damage during wartime requisitioning was demolished in the early 1950s (information from Neil Burton and Caroline Dakers).

Heritage Details

Architect: Alec F. French

Original Date: 1946

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed