TRINITY UNITED REFORM CHURCH
Heritage Category: Listed Building
List Entry Number: 1392268
Date first listed: 05-Oct-2007
Statutory Address: TRINITY UNITED REFORM CHURCH, UNTHANK ROAD
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Statutory Address: TRINITY UNITED REFORM CHURCH, UNTHANK ROAD
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Norwich (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: TG 22284 08484
1188/0/10139 UNTHANK ROAD 05-OCT-07 Trinity United Reform Church
II BUILDING: Trinity United Reform Church with linked campanile.
DATE: Constructed 1955-6 and dedicated 1956.
ARCHITECT: The building was designed by Sir Bernard Feilden and built by Thomas Gill and Sons.
MATERIALS: Constructed of grey- brown brick with buff brick dressings and occasional flint panels, the church has a copper roof with a central gable at the façade beneath which Westmoreland slate has been applied behind a Portland stone Cross.
PLAN: The plan-form is a modern interpretation of the classic square plan chapel, but on two storeys, the Sanctuary being on the first floor with meeting space and offices on the ground floor.
EXTERIOR: Above the centrally placed entrance door at the façade of the church are the Presbyterian symbols of the Bible and the Burning Bush, the latter within a Tudor Rose to signify the Presbyterian church of England. Foundation stones of the demolished Baptist chapel and bombed Presbyterian chapel are incorporated into the fabric on the south elevation. The rear elevation has the tall stair window at its central axis, with contrasting tile surround. Here the first floor projects over the ground, supported by four concrete columns. To the left, a lift shaft has been added. On both the south and north elevations, the first floor has a range of tall windows with contemporary metal frames and stone surrounds. The recessed ground floor has three central tall windows framed by supporting columns, flanked by ranges of smaller casements providing light to the offices inside.
To the south is a 52 ft high campanile, linked to the church by a low wall with courses of projecting brick, and topped by a 14ft cupola. Vehicular access through the ground floor with louvred openings on the three upper storeys of all elevations graduating from a single, to a paired to a tripartite opening at the top of the tower, each with buff brick segmented brick lintels and stone voussoirs.
The brick screen marking the boundary between the church and Unthank Road has 6 cranked arch openings with flint spandrels, edge-laid tiled heads and stone voussoirs with concrete capping.
INTERIOR: The main entrance to the church leads into a general meeting space surrounded by the vestry, cloakrooms, choir rooms arranged around it. Ahead are the stairs leading to the Sanctuary lit by a skylight and tall windows of green English handmade glass representing the Trinity, the green indicating growth, the triumph of life over death, charity and regeneration of the soul through good works. All fixtures and fittings including the carved doors, lights and staircase are contemporary. The staircase, with flat handrails and triangular shaped balusters, rises to a landing and divides into two flights each serving the Sanctuary above.
The Sanctuary itself is a large square space with the pulpit to the east and organ at the rear of the congregation to the west and a separate stair for the minister leading from ground floor to back of choir. All of the furnishings are contemporary including the pews, pulpit, choir stalls, lectern and seating for the Elders in front of the pulpit. The roof, clad in African mahogany, is constructed on a steel space frame which does not require girders and thus delivers a clean roof line. The roof design has added triangular features, representative of the Trinity, creating the shape of a cross over the congregation. It was designed for maximum acoustic delivery, in addition to its aesthetic qualities. The south and north elevations have deeply recessed windows flooding the Sanctuary with light. The walls have a natural lime plaster finish, the pews and pulpit are in Austrian oak and the skirtings are in Australian black bean wood. The original electronic organ was replaced in 1974 by a pipe organ from a redundant church, but this appears to be the only alteration from the original. Although there has been loss of some of the original embroideries, the piece which falls from the pulpit remains.
HISTORY: Trinity Presbyterian church was constructed on the site of a disused Baptist chapel, demolished in 1954. Designed by Feilden when working for the Norwich firm of Edward Boardman and son, the church was dedicated in 1956, and later described by Pevsner as 'the best [post-war] church in Norwich, in a Swedish Expressionism popular in the middle of the century'. In fact Sir Bernard has since stated that inspiration for the design came from the 6th-century Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo near Ravenna. In 1972, the Presbyterians and Congregationalists joined to form the United Reform Church. The only notable alteration to the building has been the installation of a lift shaft, sympathetically executed at the rear of the building.
SOURCES: Rawcliffe and Wilson (2004) 'Norwich Sinceisso' pp 432-3 Pevsner and Wilson (1997) 'Norfolk 1: Norwich North-East' p332 John Easton (1967) 'Trinity Presbyterian Church, Norwich 100 years 1867-1967'
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION: The Trinity URC church is listed grade II for the following principal reasons: * It is one of the first pieces by B.M Feilden (later Sir), a significant post-war architect, internationally recognised for his work on the conservation of historic buildings. * It has a distinctive design, inspired by the church of St Apollinare in Ravenna, which maximises a narrow space and combines striking architectural features, in particular the campanile and roof design, with spiritual and pastoral requirements. * It has intact fixtures and fittings of good craftsmanship. * It has group value with the grade 1 Roman Catholic Cathedral of St John the Baptist.
Listing NGR TG2228408485
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 503088
Legacy System: LBS
Books and journals
Easton, J, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Norwich 100 years 1867-1967, (1967)
Pevsner, N, Wilson, B, The Buildings of England: Norfolk 1: Norwich and North East, (1997), 332
Rawcliffe, , Wilson, , Norwich Sinceisso, (2004), 432-3
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
End of official listing