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Historical Documents: New Church Information Card

a folded quarto (203mm x 253mm) blue card printed in black


ST. PETER, DIDCOT

The church has been designed by Robert Maguire and Keith Murray of Richmond, Surrey. The quantity surveyor was Peter Gittins and the contractor Ephraim Organ and Sons Ltd., of Cowley, Oxford.

Robert Maguire and Keith Murray have designed two Lutheran, one Roman Catholic and seven Anglican churches. Besides churches, they have designed and built two new quadrangles for Trinity College, Oxford, with Blackwell's Norrington Room underneath, also Blackwell's Art Bookshop in Broad Street and student housing for Oxford, Nottingham, Surrey and Sussex Universities. In 1975 they won a competition for work at Magdalen College, Oxford. Robert Maguire is Surveyor of the Fabric to St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.


Keith Murray writes:-

A church is a place where the People of God, the Church, gather together. In the Anglican tradition a church is 'built and consecrated' and so set apart for the celebration of the Eucharistic Thanksgiving and the proclamation of the Gospel. The main space of St. Peter's is in this sense the church. It is planned with the sanctuary towards one end and on one side of the main rectangular space, with a colonnade behind the altar to give more depth and interest to the space. This arrangement allows a smaller congregation to sit facing the altar, with extra seating at right angles for bigger congregations. For festivals such as Easter and Christmas, the doors to the space of the hall can be opened to provide extra congregational seating or standing room. This plan arrangement of the building, and the form and structure of the roof are designed to help to relate the people and the priest together around the altar, font and lectern-pulpit.

Beyond the part of the hall which can be an extension of the church, there is space with french windows on to a garden; out of this there are stairs leading to a smaller gallery room in the roof space of the hall, which can be used for youth work and meetings.

The need and obligation to build economically make it difficult to create a space with the right feeling for a church inside as well as showing unostentatiously that it is a church from the outside. To provide an interesting and appropriate roof structure for the church, we have developed the 'trussed rafter' which is mainly used in house construction. We used this kind of structure first in a dining hall for St. John's, Bramcote – a theological college near Nottingham. At Didcot the idea was used again, but the form of the truss was changed to create the special kind of space appropriate to a church. The main daylight in the building is from the south window. Light from this window falls through the rafters into the building, particularly at the south, sanctuary, end of the church. The north end, nearer the hall, is lit quite differently through rooflights. In this way we have tried to create a varied light through the building, which not only makes it more interesting, but apparently more spacious. The other way that we have tried to create a feeling of spaciousness, in what is essentially a small building, is by making space beyond the colonnade behind the sanctuary. This space will be relatively darker than the sanctuary, giving a feeling of depth which it would have lacked if the wall had run through behind the altar. This depth is achieved without adding a large area to the church. In the same way, although the area of the hall is not great, different levels, lighting and the fact that that hall is not a simple rectangle make it more interesting and therefore seem larger. The design of the hall is also intended to make possible a variety of activities including playgroups, youth work, old people's clubs, receptions and parties. Because it is not all on one level, it should be possible for more than one activity to be carried on at the same time. The well-equipped kitchen should also make possible a good standard of catering if people wish to provide it.

On the whole, people “like a church to look like a church". In the past a variety of buildings have been developed and transformed into churches, including the early Christian Basilica from a law court; Saxon churches which were derived from the manorial halls of the period; Romanesque churches owed a lot to castles and the reverse; Renaissance churches which developed ideas derived from classical temples, and so on. In each case, societies took something which appealed to them and which they felt could be transformed into a church. On our way to and from Didcot, when we were discussing the church with the parish, we were impressed by the beautiful Berkshire barns, and that the existing vicarage has some of the character of a farmhouse. What we like about the barns was their simple workaday strength, simplicity and economy. We felt that we could transform the idea of a barn into a church for Didcot, which, with its big roof and simple form, would both stand out against and add to its surroundings. The bricks and tiles were chosen to relate the church to the vicarage, so that together they would form a larger unit than either would on its own.

Besides what we hope the church building itself will contribute to Didcot, a considerable sum of money has been set aside for landscaping the site, including a large number of trees which will transform this corner of Didcot.


SOME POINTS OF INTEREST.......

The main altar is made from Kirkstone slate from the Lake District. This slate forms some of the oldest work in the world.

The side chapel in the church is dedicated in honour of Saint Frideswide. Three years ago our daughter church. Saint Frideswide's, was burnt down. The altar in this chapel was made from the altar in the old Saint Peter's church by Mr. Alien Clare.

The Hanging Pyx is an old ship's lantern. The silver ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament was made by Mr. Michael Phelan of Wallingford.

The weather vane and cross on the roof of the building were made by British Rail Workshops at Swindon. In an attempt to maintain the link between the railway and the parish (the shareholders of the old G.W.R. paid 1’- each towards the building of the old church) it was suggested that Mr. Harry Roberts be approached and he very kindly offered to have the items made by his apprentices. The vane is G.W.R. King class 6000 type 4-6-0. We are very grateful to British Rail for their kindness.

The hanging depicting the life of St. Peter was made by some of the children and staff of the church school in Cockcroft Road.

The pews in the church have been brought from the old church. They were stripped of their varnish by Richard Tymons and sanded and polished by parishioners.

We are grateful to Julia Roxborough and the staff of Didcot Girl's School for producing the drawing on the front cover.

 

Church Officials Addresses:

Clergy: The Revd. Christopher Hewetson, The Vicarage, Glebe Road, Didcot. (Didcot 812114).

            The Revd. Keith Kinnaird, 52 Edwin Road, Didcot. (Didcot 812401).

Wardens: Mr. G. Phillips, 9 Icknield Close, Didcot. Mr. B. Goodall, 4 Portway, Didcot.

P.C.C. Secretary: Mrs. E. Talbot, 32 Wessex Road, Didcot.

P.C.C. Treasurer: Mrs. M. Morgan, 169 The Broadway, Didcot.


SUNDAY SERVICES
8.30
 
Holy Eucharist
10.00
 
PARISH EUCHARIST
 
SUNDAY SCHOOL
6.30
 
Evensong

 

Thursday club take a look.

(Photo by Studio Atalanta, Didcot.)

Printed by Hunt & Broadhurst Ltd., Oxford.

 

If you can put names to any of these faces, please email the webmaster

 

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St Peter's Church, Newlands Avenue, Didcot, Oxfordshire. OX11 8PY
Tel:01235 812114

© 2013 Keith Mintern