Gordon Road, St Ann’s, Nottingham NG3
The rather unprepossessing exterior of the church contrasts with the reposeful and attractive plain Gothic character of the interior. The church is a late manifestation of Gothic in the diocese, with added interest given by the additions and alterations made in the 1960s by the notable Catholic architect Gerard Goalen.
In 1885 the Sisters of St Joseph of Peace established themselves in the Blue Bell Hill area, serving a poor community. A school was opened, in which Mass was also celebrated. In 1930 a parish was created, and the Franciscans given charge of it. The school chapel was not adequate for the growing parish, and by 1937 a large site on Gordon Road was acquired, on which would be built a church, school and friary. The foundation stone for the church was laid by Bishop Ellis on 13 October (the Feast of St Edward), 1954. The foundation stone incorporated a fragment of stone from the ancient Friary of Broadmarsh, establishing a link with the medieval Franciscan community in Nottingham.
The church was built to accommodate a congregation of about 260, from designs by Reynolds & Scott of Manchester. It was not possible for it to be completed in one phase; in particular, the sanctuary remained unfinished, with a temporary east wall. This was completed in 1966 to a different design, by Gerard Goalen (and built as part of the same contract as Goalen’s new friary buildings). There have been subsequent modifications to the design of the church and friary. The social club and school were built after the church and predate the friary.
The church is in a plain modern Gothic style. It consists of a nave with narrow circulation aisles, short transepts giving off a squat central tower and a short (later) square ended chancel. As originally designed, there was no central west door; the entrances were placed in two side porches either side of a central narthex. More recently the side entrances have been glazed in and a central entrance formed.
The church is built in fair facing brick, with sparing use of reconstituted stone in the dressings. The nave roof is externally covered with Westmorland slates. The lower aisles have flat reinforced concrete roofs, concealed by raised parapets. The windows throughout are narrow lancets with triangular headed tops. There are (empty) reconstituted stone niches over the blocked side entrances. Goalen’s sanctuary consists of a single tall (equal in height to the crossing) bay, and is built of matching brick. Its east wall is plain, apart from a brick projection above altar level, for a tabernacle recess. The present central entrance leads into an enclosed narthex area under a western choir gallery (which extends over the former side entrances). The nave consists of five bays divided by a series of light steel box framed trusses, plastered and pierced by chamfered Gothic arches rising up without mouldings or capitals. Within each bay compartment is a simple boarded pitched roof with double purlins. There is a small clerestorey window in each bay. The tower over the crossing is supported by two brick Gothic arches, plastered and covered by a flat reinforced concrete roof. The aisle compartments also have an internal flat roof. The internal walls are plastered, except for a plinth of dark red brick. The windows are glazed with diamond pattern leaded lights of tinted glass, with original inset stained glass in the west window and north transept. At the east end is a recess for the tabernacle, incorporating a mosaic representation of St Francis and St Edward. The liturgical furniture consists of simply-designed items reflecting Franciscan ideals and post- Vatican II arrangements. The open fronted, table-like stone altar is raised on two steps, and there are three further steps up to the tabernacle. This arrangement may be by Goalen.
Gerard Goalen’s friary buildings date from 1966. They are of pale brick and are single storey with shallow pitched felt-covered roofs, arranged around a central cloister. The elevation to the street is very self-effacing, while the garden elevation is enlivened by projecting bays marking the cells (the bay cladding and the windows have been altered). Internally, the walls and floor of the cloister walk are faced in brick. The cloister garth is mostly paved, with a small rectangular pond.
Architect: Reynolds & Scott; Gerard Goalen
Original Date: 1956
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed