Building » Oxford (Blackbird Leys) – Sacred Heart

Oxford (Blackbird Leys) – Sacred Heart

Sawpit Road, Blackbird Leys, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX4

A post-war building built as a dual-purpose church and hall to serve to the Blackbird Leys estate. The intended separate church was never built, and in the early 1980s the interior was subdivided. 

The Blackbird Leys estate was built in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and in 1960 the diocese gave permission for the establishment of a Mass centre to serve the estate. In March 1964 a site was purchased and in 1966 the parish erected. In 1969, the present building was built as a hall, to a design by the Oxford Architects Partnership. A church and a presbytery were projected but never built. In the early 1980s a permanent division was formed in the building, creating the present church. At the same time, a two-bedroom flat for the parish priest was created out of a former meeting room, a bar and WCs (planning permission 1982, architect Charles MacCallum). In 1992, planning permission was granted for the construction of a pitched roof with skylights over the former flat roof (Pryse Traynor Architects). In 2006, planning permission was granted for a single-storey side extension beside the entrance, providing additional sacristy space, a meeting room and an accessible WC (architect Ifor Rhys).


Built in 1969 as a dual-purpose church and hall. In the early 1980s, a permanent division between church and hall was formed, a priest’s flat created, and a round corner feature extended upwards as a small tower. In c.1992 the pitched roof was added and in c.2006, a small side extension was built.

The building has an oblong plan. To the west (Sawpit Road) is a two-storey section under a hipped roof. This has the priest’s flat on the first floor. The remainder has a pitched roof over the parallel hall and church, with a hipped portion with small cross roof over the main entrance to the church from the car park. The street elevation to Sawpit Road has a small corner tower with a lead roof and cross finial. The walls are faced in brick and the roofs are tiled.

The space used as a church has the altar against the west wall, which divides the church from the hall. The following description of the interior follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar was to the east.

The interior is lit by skylights set between the deep and narrow ceiling beams. The east wall is of brick with buttresses flanking the presidential chair and the brick tabernacle stand. The altar is likewise of brick, with a cruciform support. The full-height windows in the north wall are hidden behind a timber screen with small abstract stained glass Stations of the Cross. There are also large nineteenth-century Stations from a former convent.

Heritage Details

Architect: Oxford Architects Partnership

Original Date: 1969

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed