Building » Ware – Sacred Heart of Jesus and St Joseph

Ware – Sacred Heart of Jesus and St Joseph

King Edward’s Road, Ware, Herts SG12

A very late Gothic Revival church, upon which building started just before the onset of the Second World War, and was not completed until the early 1960s. The building makes a modest contribution to the Ware Conservation Area. The interior is more impressive, and is notable for its recent liturgical furnishings and artworks by local artist Stephen Foster.

The Ware mission was established in 1870 by Constantine and Bertha Ketterer (plaque in north transept), and was originally served from Hertford (the German Fr Constantine Ketterer was a priest, ordained in 1903; Bertha was presumably his sister or mother). The parish was erected in 1921, and work started on the present church in 1939. Owing to various delays, it was not completed until the early 1960s. The identity of the architect has not been established; a possibility is Allen Reid, who carried on Arthur Young’s practice, and built comparable examples of Perpendicular Gothic elsewhere, or perhaps Archard & Partners, who were busy in Hertfordshire at this time and added the presbytery and extended the sacristies 1963 (cost £10,600). 

A small parish hall was added in the 1990s, from designs by Jane Ferra (information from Chris Fanning). The church was refurbished in 2003-04, with several fine new furnishings by Stephen Foster, who has worked widely in the Archdiocese and lives in Ware. The church was consecrated in 2004.


A small church, and a late example of Perpendicular Gothic Revival style.  On plan it consists of an aisleless nave of three bays with south porch, north and south transepts and short square ended sanctuary with attached sacristies. The building is faced in flint, with reconstituted stone dressings. The concrete tile roof is largely concealed behind raised parapets. The west gable end has a five-light window with flowing Perp tracery, while the flank elevations of the nave have lower three-light windows with depressed four centred arches and hoodmoulds; a stone band runs around the building at the level of the label stops. The clerestory windows are also of three lights, under flat lintels and on stone sills which continue as a band around the building.  The main entrance is via a pair of doors with a depressed stone arch in the south porch, and there is a secondary entrance in the south transept. Above the latter, and on the north transept, is a tall three-light window. Larger windows light the sanctuary, of three lights at the sides, and five lights at the east end.

The interior is a light space, the windows largely filled with clear glass, and the walls painted white and plastered. A painted king-post roof oversails the nave, and four depressed pointed arches frame the crossing. The sanctuary and transepts also have open painted timber roofs. The ground floor of the south transept has been closed off to form a separate space, with gallery over. In the north transept is a wall tablet recording Constantine and Bertha Ketterer, ‘founders of this mission’. In the sanctuary is the foundation stone, laid by Cardinal Hinsley on 21 May 1939.

The sanctuary extends under the crossing, and its current configuration belongs to the 2003-04 reordering: a polished Portland stone floor, raised on steps (but with a ramp), with a liturgical suite, also of Portland stone, consisting of forward altar with carved panel of the Loaves and the Fishes, lectern and (in the north transept) font. These are all by Stephen Foster, the masonry work by Martin Duncan-Jones and Oliver Gill. Foster’s too, in his  characteristic Italian Primitive style, are the carved and painted panels of the Last Supper below the east window, the Baptism of Christ by the font and a statue of Our Lady on the new partition wall in front of the south transept.

The only older furnishings of note are the stained glass windows – small badges on panels depicting various saints in the nave windows, panels depicting St Nicholas and St Sebastian on either side of the sanctuary, by Goddard and Gibbs, 1970, and panels in the lower part of the west window depicting the betrothal of Mary and Joseph, the Annunciation, Nativity, Flight into Egypt and Holy Family (to Fr Francis P Macirone (sp?), 1951), which look to be the work of Christopher Webb. A stained glass panel of the Virgin and Child was re-set in one of the north nave windows as part of the 2003-04 renovations; a notice in the church porch says that it may have come from the Catholic church at Stanstead Abbots.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1939

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed