Park Road, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4
A modern steel-framed church with attached contemporary presbytery, built in a corner of Langhorne Park, site of a convent. Shepton Mallet was one of the earliest missions in the diocese, and the present church is the successor to a Georgian Gothick chapel of 1801-04.
The mission at Shepton Mallet is one of the oldest in the diocese. It was founded in 1765 by Fr John Brewer of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Initially a room in the house of the Hippisley family in Market Place was used. On 29 April 1804, a small Georgian Gothick chapel was opened, part of an L-shaped building comprising church and house. Originally dedicated to St Nicholas, it was dedicated to St Michael in 1862. Sadly, this historic chapel was sold in the 1960s, becoming a warehouse. It is listed grade II*.
The present church was built on a site in Langhorne Park, donated by the local convent of the Sisters of the Saviour and the Blessed Virgin. The foundation stone was laid on 21 January 1967 and the church was opened by the Vicar General, Mgr Hughes, on 13 September 1967. The architects were Ivor Day & O’Brien and the total cost was £31,000. In the 1990s plans for a parish hall remained unrealised; instead, the presbytery was extended in 2000 by a parish room (architect Nigel W.H. Begg).
The church faces south. The following description follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar was at the east.
The church is a steel-framed structure with gable walls of reconstructed stone. The plan is longitudinal, with a porch to the north, a projecting south chapel and a narrower side-lit sanctuary. The west elevation has a full-height central window which breaks through the masonry on either side, while the side elevations have three-light windows with canted heads. The interior is wide and spacious in character, of five bays, the bay divisions marked by the steel framing. The east and west walls are faced with reconstructed stone, the floor is of woodblock, and the ceiling panelled in Parana pine. The altar is of Doulting stone; its material and tapering form are echoed in the tabernacle stand to the east (both made in 1967 by George V. Williams & Son Ltd). The pulpit and lectern of metal and timber match the design of the benches, which are arranged around three sides of the altar. A small pipe organ stands in the southeast corner, beside the foundation stone (according to the BIOS register, the organ is by B. Flight & Son of London, and presumably comes from the old chapel). The south chapel contains the octagonal stone font and a sculpture of St Michael by Raffl (La Statue Religieuse) of Paris.
Architect: Ivor Day & O’Brien
Original Date: 1967
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed