Building » Southall – St Anselm

Southall – St Anselm

The Green, Southall, Middlesex UB2

A late 1960s urban church which displays an interesting marriage of traditional planning with a sanctuary-focused arrangement. The curving shapes and the avoidance of strict rectilinear forms give the church visual interest, perhaps taking their cue from Basil Spence’s work at Coventry and the University of Sussex. The interior is light and welcoming, and contains coloured glass by Patrick Reyntiens and Jerzy Faczynski.

The site was acquired by Canon Ward in 1959 but problems with planning delayed construction. The church was constructed on a site roughly opposite an existing school and church, and its building was prompted by the growth of the surrounding area. Designs for the church (to accommodate 600-700 people), presbytery and schools were in place in 1964. The former church became the hall for the school. The church was finally blessed in March 1968 and opened the following month.


The church is oriented west; all directions given here are liturgical.

The church is faced with multi-coloured two-inch bricks, which are attractively varied in hue, while the main roof is of aluminium. It is slightly fan-shaped in plan, this being influenced by the shape of the site and the result is an interesting fusion of traditional aisled planning with the ideas emanating from Vatican II, with the seating in the main worship area arranged radially to focus on the sanctuary. There is a north aisle running along the full side of the ‘nave’ for four bays and accommodating the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and a short, two-bay Lady Chapel on the south side. The sacristies at the east end are linked to the presbytery. Facing the road is a flat-roofed narthex with a canopy in front, faced with Portland stone. Behind this the main wall at this end breaks forward to create a shallow triangle on plan. At the southwest corner is a polygonal baptistery topped by an open concrete lantern (with a bell), above which is a metal flèche. The blind faces of the baptistery are concave-sided and are thus the counterpart of the convex shape of the corners of the main worship space. The upper parts of the latter are pierced with a number of rectangular slits on the west face while the side walls have clerestory windows under segmental concrete hoods. Against one of the piers for the entrance canopy is a Portland stone statue of St Anselm. The roofs of the subsidiary parts of the building are flat.

Internally the surfaces are variously treated with bare brick, fair-faced concrete beams and columns, and Tyrolean plaster. Along the sides are very depressed segmental arches to the aisle and chapels mentioned above, a motif reminiscent of Spence’s University of Sussex buildings. The same motif is continued at the west end in the openings towards the narthex. The main body of the church has four banks of bench seating focusing in upon the sanctuary. There is a west gallery. The organ is sited within an opening above the Lady Chapel. Over the main space is a flat, longitudinally boarded ceiling: this stops short over the sanctuary to allow in top lighting

The coloured glass in the baptistery and west windows is by Patrick Reyntiens, 1971. The glass on either side of the sanctuary was designed by Jerzy Faczynski and was made by O’Neill of Liverpool and probably dates from about the same time. No other fixtures or fittings require special mention.

Heritage Details

Architect: J. Newton of Burles, Newton & Partners

Original Date: 1968

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed