Sayesbury Road, Sawbridgeworth, Herts CM21
A former cinema of 1914, acquired for use as a Catholic church in the 1950s, and much altered.
1940 saw the arrival of a large number of Irish Catholic workmen to help build an RAF airfield at Allen’s Green, outside Sawbridgeworth. Redemptorist priests from Bishops Stortford came to say Mass in a Nissen hut at Parsonage Farm, on the edge of the town. Later a Catholic chapel was built at the airfield, but this closed at the end of the war. After that, Mass was said at the White Lion pub until the mid-1950s, when a building in Sayesbury Road came up for sale. This was a former cinema which had opened in 1914. It originally had an attractive façade with a shaped gable (as shown in a photograph at the back of the church), which is said to have been illuminated at night by over seventy light bulbs. The cinema closed in 1953.
The building was adapted for church use by volunteers, and the total cost of redecoration, conversion and furnishing was just £320. The first Mass was said on 2 December, 1956. In 1968, the church was redecorated and renovated at a cost of £8,000, involving the addition of a sacristy and the remodelling of the front elevation in a much plainer style. More recently, pews have been installed, replacing chairs.
The church is orientated roughly north-south, but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation.
The church is a utilitarian design with a plastered gabled frontage and pale stock brick side elevations, with attached buttresses marking the bay divisions at the sides. A circular window is all that survives of the original fairly exuberant façade. There is a flat-roofed entrance porch, and a flat-roofed meeting room giving off the north side at the west end. The roof is of artificial slate, the windows UPVC. Inside, the church is a single space with a light steel truss roof and boarded ceiling. There is a gallery at the west end. There are no furnishings of particular note.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1914
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed