Building » Sawston – Our Lady of Lourdes

Sawston – Our Lady of Lourdes

High Street, Sawston, Cambridgeshire, CB22 3HJ

Sawston is a place of great importance in post-Reformation Cambridgeshire Catholicism, but the present building is a prefabricated post-war structure of no architectural or historical interest. The site was given by the Huddleston family, and lies within the Sawston Conservation Area.

In post-Reformation times Cambridge was a centre of Protestantism and Puritanism. Catholicism almost disappeared, the single focus of continuing observance being Sawston Hall, home of the recusant Huddleston family. They sheltered Queen Mary on her way to Framlingham Castle in July 1553, which resulted in the destruction of the original hall, most probably by the Duke of Northumberland’s soldiers. The hall was rebuilt between 1557 and 1584, and contained a number of priest holes or hides, at least one of them constructed by St Nicholas Owen. A chapel was built in the house in the eighteenth century, registered for public worship in 1791. The chaplains at the hall provided the continuity that was the stepping stone to a restored Catholic presence in the town. It was the Rev. Edward Huddleston who in 1826 was asked by Vicar Apostolic Thomas Walsh to found a mission, which eventually bore fruit with the building of Pugin’s church of St Andrew in 1842.

The parish of Sawston was erected in 1958, from that of Our Lady and the English Martyrs, and the present site was given by the Huddleston family (who held the estate until 1982). The church and the adjacent hall are prefabricated buildings erected with parish labour in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Plans for a new church on the site were drawn up in the early 2000s, but did not proceed on account of cost. Plans for residential development of the site were then advanced but withdrawn, and instead in 2010 the church and hall exchanged functions to allow for a larger congregation. The asbestos roofs of both buildings were replaced and a porch was added to the church.

In 2018 a new parish of Our Lady of Lourdes and St John Fisher was erected, serving the Catholic communities of Sawston and the modern development of Cambourne.  


The church is a prefabricated structure, rectangular on plan with cement-panelled external walls and an overall pitched roof covered in modern pantiles. Timber windows are set between the cement-covered uprights of the main walls and a small brick porch is attached to the north end. The porch gives access to a lobby beyond which is the church space, which has a modern boarded floor, plastered walls and a coved panelled ceiling. The altar is set on a small raised platform in the centre of the long east side. The wall behind it has vertical boarding and a striking modern crucifixion, incorporating intricately-carved scenes from the Passion. The furnishings probably date from c.2010, when the building was converted from hall to church use.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1958

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed