High Street, Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
A plain structure of the 1950s occupying a fairly prominent position in the local conservation area, but not making a particularly positive contribution to the character of the area. There are some furnishings of note.
Stony Stratford grew up along Watling Street, the Roman road from London to Holyhead (via Chester). It stood about halfway between the Roman settlements of Lactodorum (Towcester) and Magiovinium (Fenny Stratford) and was important as a crossing point on the river Ouse. The town had two medieval parish churches, dedicated to St Mary Magdalene and St Giles. St Mary’s was severely damaged by fire in 1742 but its tower survives near the present Catholic church, which is also dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. This was built from designs by Wilfred T. Deacon and Laing, and was opened on 25 September 1958. The church was consecrated on 24 November 1984.
The church is more or less orientated north-south but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar was to the east. It is an astylar modern design, built of light rustic brick laid in English bond, with a shallow pitched felt-covered roof with overhanging timber box eaves. There is a projecting full-height forebuilding, the west elevation of which is mainly glazed, with a large carved crucifix of German Romanesque character over the main entrance. Small later lean-to brick additions abut this forebuilding in the re-entrants on either side. The main body of the church lies behind, and is wider. The side elevations have a long window with metal frame on either side at the west end of the nave and a wider five-light window with hardwood timber subdivisions on either side at the east end. There is a small and later canted sanctuary addition, contemporary with a link building connecting to the presbytery at the rear of the site.
The main entrance leads into a lobby beneath a western gallery. The interior consists of a wide nave with no aisles and with plastered walls and a plaster ceiling; at the west end the internal walls are brick faced at gallery level. The sanctuary is in a flat arched recess at the east end, indirectly lit from above, and carved wooden rood figures are fixed to the wall over the arch. A dais projects forward from this, with a modern marble clad altar (and tabernacle stand behind). The altar rails mentioned in the Pevsner entry have been removed. The church contains a number of older hardwood furnishings, including a high-backed Gothic presidential chair, a table by the window on the left hand side of the sanctuary and a carving of St George and the Dragon on the gallery front. The provenance for these has not been established. Simple original benches in the nave.
Architect: Deacon & Laing
Original Date: 1958
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed