Moorland Road, Witney, Oxfordshire OX28
A plain brick 1970s design in a suburban location, distinguished by its raised tower over the sanctuary.
The mission at Witney started in 1914 when Georges de Serlonne, a French student at Oxford, rented a medieval chapel in Witney. In 1928 the first parish priest was appointed and in 1933 a former Anglican school of 1881 was acquired for use as a chapel. By the late 1960s plans were made for a permanent church. Designs were commissioned from architect Harry Harper of Radford Harper Associates, Birmingham in 1973, work on site began in the autumn of 1974 and the building was opened by Auxiliary Bishop Emery on 28 October 1975. The builders were R. Cox and J. Duthie, the engineers Ove Arup and Fergal Contracting. Reportedly, the design of the church was determined by its prominent location, the parish priest being anxious to have a building of ‘maximum impact’ which would yet blend in with the low-rise surrounding housing. The church was reordered and refurbished in the early twenty-first century.
The church faces northwest. The following description follows conventional liturgical orientation.
The external walls are faced in brown brick laid in stretcher bond, the pitched roof is clad with interlocking tiles. The plan is longitudinal. The west bay has a higher roof to accommodate the gallery. Over the east end is a short tower with monopitch roof and three narrow lancets to the north which provide indirect light to the sanctuary. The west elevation is largely blank, apart from a crucifix above the entrance porch canopy. The north elevation has double buttresses framing each bay.
The entrance lobby under the gallery is divided from the nave by a glazed screen with stained glass panel of Saints Paul, Peter, Anne and Mary Magdalen (1977). The room above the gallery is enclosed. The wide four-bay nave has a white panelled ceiling. The sanctuary has a suite of stone furnishings, which, like the curved screens on either side, date from the most recent reordering. The octagonal tapering font stands to the north of the sanctuary, while the small pipe organ stands to the south. The Stations of the Cross are framed stained glass panels with electric background lighting (Donald Brooke of Long Compton). Doors on the south side lead to the sacristy, confessionals and the hall.
Architect: Harry Harper of Radford Harper Associates of Birmingham
Original Date: 1975
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed