Building » Nottingham (Carlton) – The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Nottingham (Carlton) – The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Carlton Hill, Nottingham NG4

A nicely-detailed church of the early 1930s in Italian Basilican style, one of several in the diocese built by F. J. Bradford of Leicester, and similar to Sacred Heart, Leicester (1924, qv). The interior is particularly impressive. The earlier (1883) church adjoins and forms an attractive group with the presbytery.

In 1877 a small school was opened to provide for the educational needs of a few Catholic families in the Carlton area. A priest was appointed in the same year, and services were held in the school until a purpose-built church was built in 1883. This was a simple brick chapel in the lancet Gothic style, built from designs by Richard  Whitbread, a local architect. It was built on the site of two cottages, on land given by a Mr William Kirk. Two adjoining cottages were adapted to form the presbytery. These buildings all survive, the presbytery still in use, the old church now used by a playgroup and the former school largely rebuilt as a community centre in 1992.

The present church was built in 1930-1 by Fr John Toomey and cost £6,000 (the furnishings a further £3000). It was built by the Catholic Leicester builder F. J. Bradford, who was responsible for a number of churches in the diocese.


A brick-built church in the Italian basilican style, consisting of a nave with narrow circulation aisles, western gallery/narthex with baptistery and an apsidal sanctuary. 1930-31, by F.J. Bradford, builder, of Leicester. The brickwork is laid in English garden wall bond (three rows of stretchers alternating with a row of headers), and the roof is now covered with concrete tiles. The western bay of the nave and the lean-to entrance porch are in English bond, incorporating some creased tile courses. At the centre of the porch is a projecting entrance with a gabled open pediment, over a round-arched doorway. Above the doorway is a fine mosaic of the Madonna and Child, described as ‘Venetian’ in a press report of the opening of the church. Above this, within the open pediment of the entrance, is the papal coat of arms. The main entrance front is framed by two corner piers incorporating at their head semicircular-headed niches holding statues, and in the centre a lunette window surmounted by a further niche with statue of the Sacred Heart. Oversailing all this is a further open pediment, of blue painted timber.

The flank elevation of the western bay of the nave has a modillion cornice and is separated from the remaining flanking bays by a pier-cum-swept parapet/screen wall of Gésu type, concealing the plainer treatment beyond. The aisle bays are plain and windowless, with brick panels; above this each bay has paired clerestory windows set within reconstituted stone surrounds. The east end is apsidal, with a change in brickwork at the upper stage suggesting that this was added later.  On the south side at the junction of the clerestory and sanctuary is a small bell, possibly that cast by Taylor of Loughborough for the old church in 1886.

The west door leads through into a narthex area with a former baptistery leading off (now a small repository) and a holy water stoup with carved stone interlace surround and foliated carving to the bowl. There is a western choir gallery with organ and balustraded front, beneath the west lunette window. The main space of the nave consists of six bays, with Tuscan Doric piers and arcading. The nave has a barrel vaulted ceiling with transverse arches marking the bay divisions, and paired clerestory windows in each bay. Arched divisions also separate the bays of the narrow circulation aisles; the ceilings of the aisle bays are flat. Corinthian piers and a wider semicircular are mark the entrance to the sanctuary. This has one barrel vaulted bay and an apsidal termination; arcading and Corinthian pilasters run around its walls. These architectural elements are somewhat incongruously painted mauve; the original newspaper account (quoted  in Rice, 22) states that the columns were originally of ‘reconstructed green marble’. The original high altar was raised on five steps, but the levels were changed and new liturgical furnishings introduced after the Second Vatican Council. These include a large fibreglass statue of the Risen Christ at the east end. Other fittings of note include some good carved timber Stations of the Cross, possibly Continental, introduced in c1942 by the then parish priest Fr Gryce, and a good set of oak benches for the congregation.

Heritage Details

Architect: F. J. Bradford

Original Date: 1930

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed