Murcott Road, Whitnash, Warwickshire CV31
An inventive small modern church by Brian Rush, with sheer curving brick walls for external effect and an interior made atmospheric by diffused and directional natural light. More recently a parish centre has been built across the west end of the church.
A temporary church dedicated to St Joseph was opened in 1957 and served from St Peter, Leamington Spa, until a resident priest was appointed in 1968. A new church designed by Brian A. Rush & Associates of Birmingham was opened on 21 November 1971 and consecrated on 17 December 1980. The building, with its extensive use of brick and curved external corners, has some similarities with Rush’s earlier church of Our Lady of the Wayside at Shirley (qv), and in both churches Rush enlisted the services of the sculptor Walter Ritchie. The church was designed to seat 300 arranged on three sides of the sanctuary area. The cost was £36,000. A plan of the church as built is shown at figure 1; more recently, a parish centre has been built across the west end (planning approval granted in 1990, extended in 1998 and 2001). The presbytery was built in c.1977.
The church is a modern design, fan-shaped on plan with curved corners and an entrance at the narrow end. The external walls are faced with buff coloured brick laid in Flemish bond with groups of vertical strip windows. The roof slopes up from west to east and has a raised central section with strip clerestories along either side and at the west end. At the east end the raised section terminates against a brick upstand. The roof slopes are covered with felt. A long low single-storey parish centre faced with yellow brick has been added across the original west front of the church.
The interior has not been inspected, but is illustrated in contemporary accounts. It has (or had) bare yellow brick walls and a plain sloping ceiling. The clerestory windows and some of the vertical slit windows are filled with coloured glass in abstract patterns. At the original entrance to the church is a striking brick bas-relief carving of the Flight into Egypt by Walter Ritchie.
Original Date: 1971
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed