Bedwell Crescent, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1
A modern church of the 1950s, built to serve one of the neighbourhoods of the New Town, which was altered virtually out of recognition in the 1980s. Only the bell tower survives from the original design, and is something of a local landmark.
Stevenage was designated the first post-war New Town on 1 August 1946. The town was planned with six self-contained neighbourhoods, starting with the Stoney Hall and Monks Wood estates in 1951. Bedwell was laid out in 1952, followed by Broadwater and Shephall (1953), Chells (1960s) and later Pin Green and Symonds Green. In Bedwell, the Development Corporation allocated a prominent corner site in Bedwell Crescent for the erection of a church, presbytery and school. The church and presbytery were built from designs by Sterrett & Blouet A/ARIBA of London, the church being solemnly opened by Archbishop Godfrey on 8 July 1957. This was designed ‘in the contemporary manner and in full sympathy with the general and pleasing development of the neighbourhood unit of Stevenage New Town’ (CBR, 1957). It had a seating capacity of 500, and the contract price of the church and presbytery was £39,100.
In the 1980s, the church was drastically remodelled, from designs said to be by Williams & Winkley but carried out by voluntary parish labour (information from Chris Fanning and Josie Newton). The orientation was turned round, so that the altar was placed at the west end. The height of the building was reduced, and the previously mainly glazed west front and former baptistery were clad with tiles. The only feature which remains unaltered is the brick bell tower.
The church is now reverse orientated, but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation.
The principal surviving feature surviving from the 1950s original build is the tall brick bell tower at the northwest corner, rectangular on plan, with a raised cross on its west face and a chequerboard pattern of raised brick headers on the north face (towards Bedwell Crescent). It has an open belfry stage with slender metal crosses, and a shallow pitched roof. A datestone incorporating the opening of the church in 1957 also remains in situ, on the west front of the former baptistery. Otherwise the appearance is now entirely as redesigned and rebuilt in the 1980s. The plan consists of a nave and aisles with meeting rooms and sacristy at the west end (the latter in the former baptistery), and an attached parish hall at the east end. The building is externally faced in brick and tile, with a pitched concrete tile roof. Inside, the walls are plastered and painted, circular piers marking the bay divisions and creating the appearance of aisles. There is an open softwood roof. There are no furnishings of particular note.
Architect: Sterrett & Blouet; Williams & Winkley
Original Date: 1957
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed