St William's Way, Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, Norfolk, NR7 0AP
A functional late twentieth century complex of church and hall.
The northeast of Norwich expanded rapidly after World War II, and St William’s Way was built as a northern arterial road. By the late 1960s, clergy at St George Sprowston were saying Mass in a school for the growing number of Catholics living in this part of their big parish. A development fund was established and the parish negotiated to buy a site sufficient for a church and junior school on St William’s Way. The local authority (then Blofield and Flegg Rural District Council) had concerns for the quality of the new building and that the car park would look untidy from St William’s Way. Planning permission was finally given in 1970, with strict conditions about landscaping that cost the parish £7,000 on top of the construction cost of £17,000. On 8 February 1972 the Rt Revd Alan Clark, Bishop of Elmham, blessed the church and dedicated it to Our Lady Mother of God. The Eastern Daily Press report described the building as ‘simple, straightforward and adequate’. It is believed to have been erected under the direction of a parishioner, and no architect has been identified.
A red brick parish hall, with almost as big a footprint as the church, was added at right angles to the church in about 1980. Its main entrance was opposite the door to the church so they shared the porch and the new WC block and large kitchen.
The church is almost correctly orientated east-west, but reordering has placed the altar on the long south wall. Compass points are used in this description.
The church is thought to be steel framed, faced externally with panels of pebbledash render. The pitched roof of artificial slates is ceiled internally with acoustic panels on a broad arc rising from low side walls with big square windows. The end walls have a square timber window divided into five staggered pointed lights; there were three rectangular windows below, now filled in. The sacristy at the northwest corner is a flat-roofed block, also faced with render panels.
It is thought that the altar was originally placed under the large eastern timber window and a 1972 photograph shows it standing in front of the president’s chair, backed by a curtain (as now). The present sanctuary was possibly placed opposite the entrance door when the parish hall was built. The original furnishings cost over £2,000, much of which must have been spent on the good wooden benches that can seat 200. They are of a similar quality to those made by Mann Egerton for the parish church of St George ten years earlier.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1972
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed