Boreham Road, Warminster, Wiltshire, BA12
A simple red-brick and stone-banded church built in two phases between the wars, with a later narthex, all held together by the use of matching materials. The principal fittings date from the 1970s or later. The building makes a modest contribution to the local conservation area.
Until 1900 the nearest place for Warminster Catholics to attend Mass had been Frome, but in that year the house of Mr and Mrs Tisseman was made available for monthly worship. In 1907 the Ursuline Sisters established themselves in East Street and their convent chapel served the needs of local Catholics until the Sisters returned to France in 1919. After a short interval, when locals attended Mass at the ANZAC camp near Sutton Veny, the present site was acquired by the diocese. A small church (the nave of the present building) was built in 1921-2 to the designs of Sir Frank Wills of Bristol. It was served from Frome until 1938 when, in response an increasing congregation caused partly by the building of an army base outside Warminster, a separate parish was erected. At this point the church was enlarged by the addition of transepts and sanctuary, and a new presbytery was built. Parish histories do not identify the architect for the enlargement, but the design has parallels with St Anthony of Padua at Melksham (qv), then under construction, and may therefore be the work of Roberts & Willman, so prolific in the diocese at this time.
The sanctuary was reordered in 1977 by Ivor Day & O’Brien of Bristol and a new stone altar, containing relics of St Oliver Plunkett and St Pius X, was dedicated in 1978. In 1983 the church was further enlarged by the addition of a flat-roofed narthex on the road front, in a style complementary to the interwar building.
The church is not orientated: the liturgical east end faces north. The building is designed in a simple Romanesque style, with walls of red brick laid in Flemish bond, dressings of Bath stone and pitched roofs covered in pantiles. The plan comprises a short unaisled nave, with narthex, transepts and a sanctuary. Across the full width of the gabled front to the road, the flat-roofed narthex is of red brick in stretcher bond, with seven narrow round-headed windows with banded jambs grouped 2-3-2. At the side is a wide round-headed entrance doorway. Above the narthex in the main gable is a statue of St George in a classical niche. The side walls of the nave are divided into four bays by banded brick and stone pilaster strips and each bay has around-headed window. The later transepts and sanctuary are taller than the nave and have similar round-headed windows. The presbytery of 1938 is linked to the (liturgical) south transept.
The narthex now doubles as the baptistery. The interior has plain-plastered walls, clear-glazed windows (apart from two small porthole windows at the west end) and a timber roof which has been boarded above the collars. Transepts and sanctuary have open king-post roofs. The sanctuary was reordered in 1977, and has a simple stone altar and lectern, with a crucifix on the blind east wall. The stone drum font in the narthex apparently dates from the 1930s. Four abstract coloured glass windows in the sanctuary (blue on the ritual south side, golden red on the north) and two figurative roundels at the west end (St George and the Annunciation) were commissioned from Bath Aqua Glass c.2002 and blown by Themis Mikellides.
Architect: Sir Frank Wills; Roberts & Willman (unconfirmed)
Original Date: 1922
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed