Baslow Road, Totley, Sheffield, S17
A small, neat, modern suburban church built in the 1960s as a chapel-of-ease, and designed to serve as a parish hall to a later (unbuilt) church. This perhaps allowed greater freedom for liturgical experiment; the church has an innovative plan, top-lit sanctuary, and furnishings of note.
After the Second World War the Catholic population in the parish of Our Lady of Beauchief and Saint Thomas of Canterbury grew. New housing estates were established at Meadowhead and Woodseats, while the settlements of Dore and Totley, to the south of Sheffield and furthest away from the centre of the parish, were also growing. It became clear that there was a need to provide for Catholics in Dore and Totley, and in 1956 Fr Kavanagh opened a Mass centre in the Cross Scythes Hotel, Baslow Road. In due course a substantial plot was purchased at the corner of The Crescent and Baslow Road, and John Rochford designed a small chapel-of-ease dedicated to The English Martyrs (figure 1; the job architect was Douglas Wilkinson, information from Dr Paul Walker). The large site allowed for a larger permanent church and presbytery to be built later if needed, whereupon the present church would become the parish hall. Work started in May 1963 and the first Mass was celebrated on 23 February 1964. The main contractors were Bailey and Martyn Ltd and the cost was £12,000.
The church has been reordered twice, in 1978 and 1982. It remains a chapel-of-ease to Our Lady and St Thomas.
The church was built from designs by John Rochford (job architect Douglas Wilkinson) and opened in 1964. A modern church built in what the architect described as ‘silver-grey and black hand-made bricks’, loadbearing and laid in Flemish bond, it is mostly flat-roofed with a steeply-pitched pyramidal slate roof to the east corner surmounted by a cross. The building is square in plan, or L-shaped around a square sanctuary, and consists of the entrance, ancillary rooms, confessional and a single volume for the nave and sanctuary.
The entrance is on the northwest side, with double mahogany doors, a single vertical window and decorative detailing below the eaves consisting of small dark brick squares in a row across the elevation. The other elevations each have four single vertical windows and a clerestory window set in an offset recessed panel of dark brown brick, with golden brown brick and square brick detailing to the rest of each elevation.
The church interior is set on the diagonal with the sanctuary in the east corner and the ancillary rooms and confessionals directly opposite in the west corner. As is common in Rochford’s churches, the ceiling is a prominent feature, with exposed joists and timber boarding in an L-plan over the nave. There is a parquet floor and the walls are plainly painted white. The sanctuary is raised by one step, and has a black marble table altar. Behind this is a curtained screen-cum-reredos, attached to which is a slender metal crucifix by Arthur Dooley, whose work is also found at St Mary’s, Leyland and Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral. Overhead is a suspended canopy, consisting of a square panel lined with timber boarding carried on beams suspended below the sloping ceiling of the pyramidal roof (figure 2). The nave pews are set at an angle to the sanctuary. Other furnishings of note include the ceramic Stations of the Cross, with figures in low relief (artist not established).
Original Date: 1964
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed