Wakefield Avenue, Tutbury, Staffordshire DE13
A modest single-volume building of 1960 with some furnishings of note.
The Crowther family persuaded Fr Gardiner of St Modwen’s in Burton-on-Trent to establish a Mass centre in the Village Institute in Tutbury in 1937. This had been built as a Methodist church in the 1850s and ironically it was the Methodists of Tutbury who were most opposed to the creation of a Catholic church. Funds were raised for a large plot to be purchased on Wakefield Avenue in 1959 and the completed church was opened and blessed by Archbishop Dwyer in 1960. The site is big enough for a presbytery and social hall but neither has been built; the sacristy serves as a small meeting room.
The church is built at the back of a large, rising plot and is correctly orientated. It is rectangular with a single storey west narthex and a southeast single storey sacristy. It is built from a similar red brick to the surrounding houses and has a metal-covered shallow pitched roof. The sanctuary is marked externally by a full height five-light north side window of reconstituted stone; a similar window with a triangular head can be seen in the west wall above the narthex. There are five high level rectangular windows to the nave, now with uPVC frames (replacing Crittall metal windows). Some doors are plastic framed too. Alongside the main entrance is a modern wall-mounted gilded bronze (?) sculpture of St Christopher carrying the Christ child.
Inside, the single space is divided into six bays by five cranked concrete trusses with an apex joint, the east sanctuary bay being wider than the rest. Each bay between the trusses is ceiled with boarding running across the space to the exposed concrete wall plate above walls of exposed brickwork. The solid floor is covered with patterned red and white granolithic tiling and originally contained an electric underfloor heating system that proved to be too expensive to run – earning the church the nickname of ‘the ice box’. The narthex was open to the church below the west window (now with a glazed screen); towards the church there is a recess to the north originally for the font (now a tea-point) and to the south for storage (behind a curtain). There is a WC to the south end of the narthex. The confessional is to the southeast of the sanctuary beside the door to the sacristy that leads through to a small meeting room with kitchen.
The two-step sanctuary platform is paved with coloured marble ‘crazy-paving’ and the white concrete altar, pulpit and font are placed on top of it and so are post-1960. The altar was probably against the east wall in 1960; the tabernacle shelf appears to be of more recent white concrete.
The small Stations are unusually well drawn, apparently of glazed ceramic panels (possibly enamelled metal?) There is a large metal low relief sculpture of St Christopher at the entrance, both large windows contain a cross in coloured glass, that in the sanctuary window surrounded by a vine in stained glass. The nave is furnished with solid teak benches.
In the sacristy are a wooden Gothic lectern from Woodlane (which Fr Samy replaced with the lectern he salvaged from Marchington), some brass candlesticks and a wooden altar table also from Marchington. Outside to the rear is the battered bowl of an ancient octagonal stone font from Marchington, which Revd Vincent O’Reilly (priest at Woodlane from 1937) had given in 1949 when that chapel was being established. It was then in the garden at Woodlane and Fr O’Reilly had been told that it originally came from the parish church of Yoxall (the font there now is apparently of nineteenth century date).
Entry amended 15.12.2020
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1960
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed