Berry Lane, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire WD3
A church of 1970-71 on a polygonal plan, built to a fairly low budget but with a light and welcoming interior.
A mission was established in Rickmansworth in 1886 by the Rev. Henry Hardy (1841-1918). In 1904 the Augustinians of the Assumption, who had been expelled from France in 1901, took over. The mission of Rickmansworth was formally constituted in 1906.
At Mill End, Mass had been celebrated in the 1950s in a Nissen hut in Denham Way, and in 1962 a former Baptist chapel was pressed into service. In 1962 plans began to be formulated for a permanent church, hall and presbytery, using architect T. J. Denny of Watford, but progress was slow. From May 1967 Mass was said in the hall of St John’s School and the following year the adjacent site in Berry Lane was cleared to allow the building of the new church. However, construction does not seem to have begun until autumn 1970. The finished building was opened on 27 June 1971 and was designed as a dual purpose church/social centre. The cost was a modest £30,000. A sliding screen was provided to divide the sanctuary from the body of the church but this became redundant after the building of the parish centre about 2001 (architect Francesca Weal of Weal Architects). Plans are in hand to remove the screen and to reorder the sanctuary with more permanent fittings in 2013.
The church is hexagonal on plan with the sanctuary projecting forward from one of the sides. It is steel framed and is faced with brown brick in the lower part of the walls, above which is a ‘clerestory’ which leans outwards with each face rising to a pointed apex. The roof, which is covered with felt, follows the contours created by the clerestory. In the centre is an openwork spirelet. Over the sanctuary the roof rises to a pointed projection with the clerestory flooding it with light. Against the wall opposite the sanctuary is a porch and various spaces for a kitchen, toilets and storage.
Inside, the body of the church is faced with bare grey bricks although most of the walling in the sanctuary is rendered. Daylight is provided through the clerestory windows which are glazed with blue and white frosted glass. The main area is covered by a tent-like roof, boarded on the underside. In front of the sanctuary is a timber-clad ‘tympanum’ which shields the congregation from the glare of the windows beyond. The floor is covered with parquet blocks and the seating is on sturdy oak benches. Two windows on the right-hand side have richly coloured abstract glass.
Architect: Denny & Bryan
Original Date: 1970
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed