East Street, St Neots, Cambridgeshire, PE19 1JU
A former Baptist chapel of the 1870s, converted for Catholic use by A.S.G. Butler in 1931. The building is architecturally modest and typically Nonconformist in its free use of Gothic details, its interior character made more Catholic by a neo-baroque altarpiece designed by Butler. With the adjoining presbytery, a substantial mid-nineteenth century villa, it makes a positive contribution to the St Neots Conservation Area.
The church was built as a Baptist chapel by William Jackson of St Neots, and C.H. Spurgeon preached at the opening on 30 September 1873. It was acquired and converted to Catholic use in 1931, under the direction of A.S.G. Butler, joint editor of the memorial volumes dedicated to the work of Sir Edwin Lutyens, and architect for the church at Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk (1928, qv). The builder was F. W. Bellamy of St Neots; new windows were inserted, the roof renewed and a neo-baroque altarpiece installed.
The parish is now in the care of the Claretians of Buckden Towers (qv).
Erected as a Baptist chapel in the 1870s, the building is characteristic of many Nonconformist places of worship, in which a simple plain body is enhanced by simplified Gothic detail. The church is rectangular on plan, with walls of yellow brick laid in Flemish bond with banding and window arches of red brick, and roof coverings of natural slate. The main front to the street has paired central entrance doors under a pointed brick arch with a single window to either side with small panes and interlace in the head. A much larger window with a similar glazing pattern is set in the gable above the entrance doors. The side walls are divided into bays by simple stepped buttresses and in each bay is a single window opening with a pointed brick arched head on stone imposts.
The interior is a single space with a carpeted floor, plain plastered walls and a boarded canted ceiling with the principal roof trusses exposed. The nave seating consists of modern benches. At the liturgical west end is a deep gallery supported on iron columns with a modern panelled front. The side windows are filled with tinted frosted glass of 1931. The sanctuary occupies the eastern bay and is marked only by a single step. Against the blind east wall is a neo-baroque altarpiece with marbled side pilasters, a broken pediment and a large modern painting of the Nativity, signed J.G. (this replaces or overlays painted panels of angels, and the entablature appears to have been raised to accommodate the new painting). The entablature bears the text ET VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST (And the Word was made Flesh). It is flanked by statues of Our Lady and St Joseph, installed in 1931 (although the niches are later). Sanctuary furnishings also include some neo-Jacobean chairs.
Architect: William Jackson
Original Date: 1873
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed