Ashcroft Road, Stopsley, Luton, Bedfordshire
A modest post-war structure built as a dual purpose church and hall, later adapted and extended. The interior, with its parabolic coffered ceiling, has a certain period charm.
A mission was established at Stopsley in 1946; there were around 300 Catholics, and at first Mass was said in the village hall. In the absence of a Catholic school, at the end of the 1940s permission was received from the local authority to build a hall where children could receive instruction. The hall, built in 1950, doubled up as a church. There is no information in the diocesan archive or in the parish about the builder, architect or the circumstances in which the land was purchased.
The parish was erected in 1953. In 1963 the seating capacity of the dual-purpose church/hall was doubled by an extension providing new side aisles, gallery and porch with glazed screens overlooking the nave. At the same time, the church car park was covered in tarmac.
The church was consecrated in 2008.
This small church was originally designed as a church hall and retains that simple character, with a dark red brick exterior and plain gable-ended frontage with a raised parapet. The west entrance originally had a single-storey porch with arched doorway; this was replaced in 1963 with the current flat-roofed porch extending the full width of the gable, with two double timber doors in the centre. Over the entrance is a long, slender tripartite window flanked by two smaller windows.
Inside, the church consists of a porch, nave, west gallery, side aisles, sanctuary and sacristy. The rectangular nave is plastered and painted, with a tall, parabolic-vaulted coffered ceiling. The side aisles date from 1963, when the long walls of the nave were removed and replaced with plain, circular, painted columns and, above, horizontal clerestory windows. These have been replaced in PVCu. The gallery was installed at the same time, above part of the newly-widened west porch. The nave pews, on a carpeted floor, are plain, varnished wood. There is a confessional at the west end of the south aisle. The small pipe organ was bought in 2008 from the Royal Albert Hall. The Stations of the Cross are paintings, and there is a good quality statue of Our Lord at the east end of the south aisle.
The altar is set on a raised timber platform, with a flat canopy overhead. The altar was consecrated in 2008. The reredos was removed during a pre-2006 reordering, when the altar was moved back slightly. Projections to either side of the sanctuary house a meeting room (north) and sacristy (south).
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1950
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed