Thackeray’s Lane, Woodthorpe, Nottingham NG5
Image copyright Alex Ramsay
Image copyright Alex Ramsay
The old church (now hall). Image copyright Alex Ramsay
In the words of the list entry, ‘this is a fine example of a church designed on Liturgical Movement principles, with the altar placed to one side of a centralised plan form, in an arrangement which was advanced for its time in England. The church is also particularly notable for its spatial qualities, for its delicate vaulting descending onto slender piers and for its fine display of stained glass’.
The foundation stone of the first church, a modest brick structure, was laid by Bishop Dunn on 21 March 1929. The first parish priest was appointed in 1934, and a presbytery built in 1937. In 1945 a temporary parish hall was built behind the church. The 1929 church remained in use, with extensions, until 1964, whereupon it became a parish hall.
The present church was designed by Gerard Goalen for Fr Bernard Mooney, and was blessed and opened on 23 July 1964 by Bishop Ellis. It was a ground-breaking design in the diocese, in terms of both its architecture and design and its liturgical planning. More recent embellishments have included a good set of Stations of the Cross by Nicholas Mynheer circa 2001.
In 2006 the old church/parish centre was demolished and replaced with a new parish centre, financed in part by the disposal of a church/hall on the Arnold Hill Farm Estate.
According to the Catholic Building Review (1964, 142) ‘the aim of the parish priest and architect was to provide a large church – to accommodate 600 people – which would have the intimate atmosphere usually associated with a small chapel, and in which the congregation could fully participate in the liturgy’. This was achieved in terms of planning by the placing of the seating in a wide arc focussed on the sanctuary; the nave and sanctuary are each hexagonal, distinct but related spaces. Intimacy and richness were achieved by means of stained glass; in the words of Harwood ‘the atmosphere is intimate and darkened, the simplicity relieved by a glorious display of glass by Patrick Reyntiens’.
The building is fully described in the list entry (below). The most significant changes since the time of the listing have been the introduction of Mynheer’s Stations of the Cross and the building of the new parish centre. The original open pulpit has been removed, the base only surviving in situ.
Roman Catholic church. 1962-64. Gerard Goalen. Stained glass by Patrick Reyntiens. Concrete and brick with roof not visible. The main space is an elongated hexagon in plan, with the altar placed in one of the points in the centre of the broadside, opposite the main entrance. A rectangular enclosure around the hexagon accommodates a lady chapel, baptistry, choir, vestries and entrance foyer, and provides a link with the earlier presbytery (not included in the listing). Single storey entrance front of brick with a concrete fascia, having a central segmental-headed entrance flanked to each side by a half-octagonal-headed entrance. Above this rises tall, narrow, vertical concrete panels with inset dalle-de-verre stained glass. These panels rise to meet segmental-headed arches described by the concrete fascia panels. Rising to the left out of the entrance front is a slender pointed concrete tower, which widens a little less than half way up into a square bell chamber with horizontal grilles.
Internally, four slender piers rise to support a delicate groin vault of smooth concrete which descends to meet the heads of the piers in curved facets; the vault has subsidiary points containing ventilators and 4 circular lamp housings are also inset in a cluster by the north (liturgical) of these. The upper walls are filled with Reyntiens’ dalle-de-verre stained glass in purples, mauves, greens and blues, and the panels become broader and richer in the three arched lights behind the altar. Low aisle around five sides of the hexagon. Altar of concrete and timber altar rails also carry the segmental arch motif. This is a fine example of a church designed on Liturgical Movement principles, with the altar placed to one side of a centralised plan form, in an arrangement which was advanced for its time in England. The church is also particularly notable for its spatial qualities, for its delicate vaulting descending onto slender piers and for its fine display of stained glass.
Architect: Gerard Goalen
Original Date: 1962
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II*