Boundary Road, Newark, Nottinghamshire NG24
A church built in the late 1970s, with a somewhat fortified external air, striking octagonal plan and atmospheric internal lighting effects.
Although there is evidence of Catholic worship in Newark from the early nineteenth century, the Catholic community first made its presence really felt in 1836, when a large new church with a tall west tower and adjoining presbytery were built in Parliament Street. The church was opened on 2 July 1837. White’s Directory of 1853 states that it cost £3,000 and seated about 1,000. This church, described in the Catholic Building Review (1976) as ‘a rather gaunt and dilapidated early Victorian Gothic building, located in a somewhat run-down part of the town’ was closed in the 1970s and replaced with the present building. This was built on a cleared site further from the centre of the town, but considered to be more convenient for the majority of the congregation. The architects were Horsley, Currall & Associates of Stafford. Work started in 1976 but building was delayed by construction problems (the roof had to be rebuilt) and subsequent litigation, but the completed church was finally blessed and consecrated by Bishop McGuinness on 19 July 1979. The church was designed to seat 326. Its interior was planned with flexibility in mind e.g. with sacristies which could be removed if additional seating was required.
The church is octagonal on plan, faced with plain red brick panels on the principal faces, with narrow side lighting recessed behind. Behind the somewhat fortified brick facade rises a slate-clad octagonal roof of shallow pitch. The roof is carried on an independent steel frame, with eight circular steel columns carried up inside to the apex, where there is a central lantern at the base of a slender fibreglass spire. In the words of the CBR account (1979) ‘The church is planned to give a closely integrated relationship between the congregation and the Sanctuary and the enclosing walls are moulded to give an interesting quality of scale, harmony and warmth […] The timber ceiling design radiates from the centre to express an all-embracing canopy around while rooflights allow the daylight to filter down to give a sense of lightness and grade to the whole composition. At the same time, the Sanctuary is given its own emphasis by means of a discreet degree of highlighting’. The interior walls are faced in brick, and when unilluminated the interior has a dramatic quality, with key areas penetrated by shafts of light from above and the sides. Above the entrance, the narthex/lobby has a gallery over, with additional seating. The tabernacle, Stations of the Cross and the crucifix behind were brought from the old church. Otherwise, the furnishings are new and include abstract coloured glass windows and a beaten copper panel listing past parish priests and including an image of the old church. Unusually, the pews are upholstered.
Architect: Horsley, Currall & Associates
Original Date: 1976
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed