Building » St Ives – The Sacred Heart

St Ives – The Sacred Heart

Needingworth Road, St Ives, Cambridgeshire, PE27 5JT

A small church in the Early English style built in 1902. Its primary interest lies in the fact that it replicates the plan of, and incorporates fabric and furnishings from, A.W.N. Pugin’s church of St Andrew, Cambridge (1843). The building occupies a prominent corner site in the St Ives Conservation Area.

The church began life as the church of St Andrew in Union Street, Cambridge. This was a modest brick building erected in 1843 from designs by A.W.N. Pugin, who used the small medieval church of St Peter, Longstanton (near Cambridge) as his model. By the end of the century Pugin’s church was too small for the congregation and their ambitions, and with the building of Dunn, Hansom & Dunn’s Our Lady and The English Martyrs (qv), St Andrew’s became redundant and was closed. In 1902 it was taken down and some of the materials moved by water to St Ives, where the building was re-erected, largely at the expense of George Pauling, a railway engineer and Catholic convert, who gave £1000 and an endowment. The architects for the rebuilding were John Morley of Cambridge and Edward W. Robb of St Ives. The rebuilt church, which replaced a modest timber building that had served the Catholics of St Ives up to this point, was dedicated to the Sacred Heart.

The rebuilding was not an exact copy of the original. The white brick of Pugin’s church was replaced with red brick, some of the stone window reveals were replaced, a clerestorey was added and the porch and two-storey sacristy were moved from the liturgical south side to the north, to suit the new site. The sacristy may have been intended to function as a modest presbytery, but a substantial detached presbytery was soon built next to the church. Internally, the stone arcades are doubtless Pugin’s, and probably the timber roof too; many of the original furnishings including the stained glass windows were also transferred, although the arrangement was changed.

In 1906 the church was, in the words of The Tablet, ‘wrecked by a madman’; a young engineer from Hemingford Grey attacked it with a sledgehammer, destroying two stained glass windows as well as other furnishings. It was reported that his mind had been unbalanced by worries over an invention relating to motor cars, which he had been trying to patent.

In 1912 the presbytery was built, connected to the southwest corner of the church by a small link. In 1960 a timber baldacchino was added over the altar and new communion rails installed. Both were removed in 1978, when the Pugin altar was brought forward and new Iroko pews introduced. At the same time a large south ‘transept’ was built between the church and the presbytery, with folding doors to enlarge the congregational space and serve as a separate parish hall. The architect for these changes was Julian Limentani of Marshall Sisson Architect. Limentani later designed a new parish hall to the east of the south transept, which opened in January 2002. In 2017 the small internal courtyard between church, presbytery and transept was roofed in, providing a reconciliation room and meeting room (designed by Richard Biddle).


The church is not orientated; the liturgical east end faces to the west. All directions in the following description are liturgical. 

The building is in the Early English Gothic style, built of red brick laid in English bond with limestone dressings and roof coverings of natural slate. The plan comprises an aisled nave with a western bellcote, a northwest porch and a two-storey northeast sacristy.  There is no external separation between the nave and chancel and the east end wall of the nave is flat. The west end fronts onto Needingworth Road and has two pointed lancet windows set one above the other in a projection which rises to support the gabled stone bellcote, with twin openings each housing a bell. The side walls are four bays long. The clerestorey on both sides has four pairs of small pointed windows in plate tracery, set under low pitched arches. The south side is largely hidden from view by the presbytery and later additions. On the north side the western bay of the aisle has a projecting brick porch with a pointed doorway; the door itself probably comes from the Cambridge church. Two centre bays of the aisle have single lancets. Attached to the eastern aisle bay is a two-storey sacristy with its own pitched roof at right-angles to the nave roof, with two-light windows on both floors on the north and west sides and a door on the east side, where there is also a substantial chimneystack rising through the roof slope. The flat east end of the nave has three lancet windows, with a small trefoil opening above the centre light.

The interior has a parquet floor and plain plastered walls. The north and south arcades are of tall pointed and chamfered arches resting on stone piers, some round and some octagonal, recalling medieval variety. The tall open timber roof has collars with raking struts and the principal rafters are carried down onto timber wall posts.  The west wall of the nave is plain apart from two superimposed lancets. There is no structural division marking the sanctuary; in Pugin’s Cambridge church there were screens but here there are none and the east bay of the nave is simply raised by one step and carpeted. At the east end of the south aisle is a wide modern opening to the 1978 extension. 

Furnishings designed by Pugin include the altar of painted Caen stone with symbols of the evangelists in three quatrefoils (brought forward in the 1970s and restored in 2002), the tabernacle behind the altar (by Hardman), and stained glass in the three east windows (by William Wailes). The Lady altar at the east end of the south aisle is of oak, with a carved and painted front. The octagonal stone font on four columns was originally inside the north door but was moved to the east end of the north aisle in 1978. Stained glass in the east windows of the aisles was installed in 1979.

List description


Circa 1843 by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, transferred from Union Road, Cambridge in 1902. Nave, aisles, porch on east side and bellcote. Red brick with stone dressings. Slate roof. Lancet windows with low pitched triangular heads. Paired clerestory lights under segmental brick arches. ‘Early English’ style doorway. Round and octagonal piers internally. Listing NGR: TL3178771597

Heritage Details

Architect: A.W.N. Pugin; J. Morley and Edward W. Robb

Original Date: 1840

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II