Station Road, Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, PE7 1SA
A former National School building in a stripped Gothic style, built in 1851. After over a century of school use the main building was converted to use as a Catholic church in 1963. The building is of modest architectural significance but has historical and communal value, and with the presbytery makes a positive contribution to the local conservation area.
In 1849 a National School for girls was built in Whitmore Street, Whittlesey, followed in 1851 by a boys’ school on a site between Station Road and Scaldgate. The site for the boys’ school was given by J. W. Childers, lord of the manor, and the building opened in January 1852. The Buildings of England names Childers as architect, but John Walbanke-Childers was a Whig politician and magistrate, not an architect. The original buildings comprised a single large classroom with a teacher’s house attached. An additional classroom was added at the rear of the main building in the 1890s. The school continued in use until the early 1950s, when a large new school was built in Whittlesey. The former National School building and attached teacher’s house were then acquired for conversion to a Catholic church and presbytery. The church, dedicated to St Jude, opened in 1963.
The building is in a stripped Gothic style. The walls are of yellow brick laid in Flemish bond with painted stone dressings, the roof is covered with concrete pantiles. On plan the church comprises a longitudinal nave and chancel with a porch in the centre of the long south side. The former teacher’s house, now the presbytery, is attached at right-angles to the northwest, with the 1890s classroom, now the parish hall, to the northeast. The south front is divided into five unequal bays by stepped buttresses. The main doorway is under a shallow arched head in the central brick porch, flanked by single windows with transoms and cusped heads. The bays to either side of the centre have three-light windows of similar pattern, with single lights in the outermost bays. The east and west gable walls both have three-light windows with small quatrefoil openings above. The presbytery is in the same stripped Gothic style.
The church interior is a single space with painted brick walls, clear glazed windows and an elaborate timber hammerbeam roof, with braced collars and arch-braces to the principal trusses brought down onto stone corbels in the wall. There is no internal structural division but the sanctuary is slightly raised and demarcated by a boarded dado. A timber reredos has been set against the lower part of the east window. The light timber sanctuary furniture and nave benches probably date from the 1960s.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1851
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed