Glastonbury Road, Stretford, Manchester M32
A good example of an innovative church design of about the time of the Second Vatican Council, on a fan-shaped plan and retaining much of its original character. The most striking feature is the glass in full-height panels in the nave and baptistery, an ambitious scheme by the Buckfast Abbey studio. The sanctuary has been reordered.
The parish was erected in 1938 and Mass originally said at the presbytery or in halls hired for the purpose. Later in the same year a brick hall, used as a church and for social activities, was put up on Glastonbury Road at a cost of just over £400. After the Second World War renewed efforts were made to raise money and a new church building was started by the parish priest, Fr James Forrestall, in 1962. The hall was retained and is now part of the primary school adjacent to the church. The new church seated 600, with space for eighty more in the gallery. It was opened on 5 September 1964 by Archbishop Cardinale, the Apostolic Delegate. The architect was W. F. A. Evans of Surbiton, an obscure figure who did not otherwise work in the diocese, and may have had an association with Fr Forrestall through the Serra Club, an organisation of lay Catholics devoted to fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life; Fr Forrestall was at that time the club’s national chaplain (information from Lawrence Gregory, Diocesan Archives). The church has a bold fan-shaped plan, and is notable for its dalle de verreglass by the Buckfast Abbey studio.
Early photographs show that despite the innovation of the design, the sanctuary was arranged to allow for the priest facing liturgical east, in the conventional manner. Post-Vatican II reordering has involved the removal of the altar rails, the reconfiguration and replacement of furnishings, and the relocation of the font (the baptistery becoming a piety stall).
All orientations given are liturgical. The church is built to a bold design typical of the period, on a modified fan-shaped plan with a low narthex and (former) baptistery giving to a broad space, with west gallery and focus on the sanctuary which is top-lit by a funnel at the east end. The frontage has a glazed screen above the entrance with a stylised cross motif framed by an oversailing copper-clad roof. North and south sides incorporate striking full-height screens of dalle de verre glass by the Buckfast Abbey studio. Dominant colours are reds on one side and blues on the other, and the design shows saints associated with the church and clergy. Another stained glass panel by the same studio lights the north side of the baptistery. Here the design shows a cross against a brightly coloured background. The sanctuary levels have been changed and its furnishings replaced in post-Vatican II reordering.
Architect: W. F. A. Evans
Original Date: 1964
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed