HOLY TRINITY CHURCH

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1393500
Date first listed:
29-Oct-2009
Statutory Address:
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, TWYDALL LANE

Map

Ordnance survey map of HOLY TRINITY CHURCH
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Location

Statutory Address:
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH, TWYDALL LANE

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District:
Medway (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TQ 79867 67057

Reasons for Designation

Holy Trinity Church, Twydall Lane, Gillingham is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * architectural interest: in its creative use of traditional materials and bold modern forms, Holy Trinity is a dramatic and expressive response to the concepts of modernity and continuity in the English parish church. * intactness: the building is almost completely unaltered; the near complete survival of the liturgical furniture, fixtures and fittings, designed by the architect, is particularly interesting. * historic interest: the internal arrangement of the church displays an early response to the ideas of the Liturgical Movement which became a dominant force in post-war church planning from the 1960s onwards.

Details



686-1/0/10012 TWYDALL LANE 29-OCT-09 Holy Trinity Church

II Church, built 1963-4 by Arthur Bailey, consulting engineers Messers Redpath Brown

MATERIALS: Walls of irregular yellow London stock bricks laid in English bond; zinc-coated steel roof structure covered in cedar shingles, lined internally with acoustic tiles. Clear plate glass windows. The building is heated through an underground system of copper pipework.

PLAN: Square plan with corners aligning broadly with compass points. Enclosed entrance porch protruding from north-west elevation and splayed rectangular wing protruding from south-west elevation housing vestry, choir vestry, toilets and boiler room. Nave aligned along diagonal east-west axis with altar to east.

EXTERIOR: The building comprises a single-storey brick base into which is set a large pyramidal roof approximately 70ft in height. The roof height is dropped to the west along the diagonal north-south axis, with glazing between the east and west halves of the roof. The glazing is divided into narrow, vertical strips of irregular width. The apex of the east half of the roof is canted and over-sails the west half; the underside is lined with timber and roof steels emerge through the glazing displaying the supporting structure; a bell, which is electrically operated from the ground, hangs from the centre of the apex. The walls are of irregular depth with multi-faceted buttresses to each corner. Irregularly sized windows are positioned in the central section of each elevation and are deeply set between buttresses of varying height, width and depth. One of the windows in the north-west elevation has been made into a door to allow wheelchair access. A flat roofed entrance porch extends to the north-west with hard-wood glazed entrance doors. To the left of the doors is a white wooden cross and foundation stone which reads:

THIS STONE WAS LAID ON 18TH JUNE 1963 / BY VICE ADMIRAL I. W. T. BELOE CB. DSC. RN. / AND DEDICATED TO THE GLORY OF GOD / BY DAVID 140TH BISHOP OF ROCHESTER

A narrow flat roofed wing extends to the south-west. The north-east elevation is glazed to the north and blind to the south, the south-west and south-east elevations are of brick with windows set into shallow bays.

INTERIOR: The interior walls are untreated flush-finished brickwork and the steel roof structure is fully exposed; the feet of the principal steels embedded into the four corners of the building, and the secondary steels resting on a concrete ring beam above the wall head. The acoustic tiles lining the ceiling are arranged in yellow and white stripes. The worship area is open and uninterrupted. The high level glazing directs natural light on to the sanctuary which sits between the east corner and centre point of the building. The clear-glazed windows set between the deep buttresses allow controlled and directional daylight into the building. The rows of fixed pews are angled, partially wrapping around the sanctuary, creating a fan-like congregational space. Three choir stalls sit within the fan-shape, to the south of the nave, distinguished from the pews only by music rests which protrude from the back of the stall in front. The altar serves the main congregation to the west, and a 'chapel' in the east corner. The chapel is demarcated with a carpeted floor and prayer book rests, the pews have been removed. The font is located to the left of the nave, between the altar and the congregation.

The interiors of the south-west wing, which houses the vestry and choir vestry, are not of special architectural interest.

FIXTURES AND FITTINGS: Altar, T-shaped in elevation with floating hardwood top on polygonal platform surrounded by steel and hardwood altar rail; font, egg-shaped with hardwood cover; hardwood pews and choir stalls with ten built-in standard lamps with black tubular stands and black cylindrical shades spread amongst the congregational space; clergy seats, lectern, pulpit and large cross above the altar, all in hardwood; pipe organ (pipes suspended behind hardwood cross), built in 1975 by Browne's of Canterbury from a redundant organ at Hever Church in Kent.

The altar and font were cast in-situ from a mix which included fine granite chippings, which produced a rough-textured white finish. The hardwood furnishings are of utile. With the exception of the organ, the fixtures and fittings were designed by the architect.

HISTORY: Arthur Bailey (1903-1979), at this time working in partnership with William Henry Ansell (1873-1959), was appointed to build Holy Trinity Church for the post-war suburb of Twydall under the Rochester Diocesan Scheme for Church Extension. The church was in the early phases of design by spring 1962, the foundation stone was laid in June 1963, and the new church was consecrated in September 1964. The church cost over £47,000, more than £17,000 of which was raised by the parish itself.

Bailey was one of a number of talented architects who trained under E Vincent Harris (1876-1971), renowned for his solid neo-classical works. Bailey undertook a wide variety of commissions during his career and in partnership with Ansell played a central role in the restoration of London's blitzed churches, including the dramatic modern insertion into Hawksmoor's St George in the East (re-consecrated in 1964). Bailey also designed a number of new churches, the best known being the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, London, built 1950-54 (listed at Grade II). Bailey's earlier churches were traditional in form and historical in style; however by 1960, his work had moved towards a more modern approach. An early example of this is seen in his entry for the competition to design Liverpool's Roman Catholic Cathedral, for which he won third place in 1960. His design was a radical departure from the refined classicism and conventional layout of the Dutch Church. This change of direction would have been strongly influenced by the ideas of the Liturgical Movement.

The Liturgical Movement had its origins in pre-First World War Belgium, in progressive Catholic theological circles. A return to Biblical sources and a deepening understanding of the worship of the Early Church promoted a new concept of liturgy, in which laity and clergy joined in active participation, with the Eucharist at the heart of a corporate act of worship. These ideas became widely disseminated in Europe during the inter-war period. British architects were not at the forefront of these new ideas; with a few notable exceptions, it was not until the post-war period that church building in England truly began to reflect the influence of the Liturgical Movement and embrace the experimentation with church form that began with Franz Lloyd Wright's Unitarian Church, Wisconsin (1947-52)and was developed in northern Europe. Innovative church building was dominated by the unified worship space, and in particular by the exploration of plan forms that placed the Eucharist literally as well as spiritually at the centre of the worship. Churches became shorter and broader and the main altar was brought forward so that the celebrant could face the congregation, whilst the positioning of the font and the choir became a cause for much experimentation.

The layout of Holy Trinity embraces the ideas of the Liturgical Movement: the fan-shaped arrangement of pews and the chapel to the east gives the altar a near three hundred and sixty degree relationship with the congregational space. The font is brought close to the altar and lectern, drawing together the elements of Christian worship. The choir is brought amongst, and is almost indistinguishable from, the congregation. The single height walls and low windows keep the interior on a human scale, whilst the soaring roof space gives dramatic height and space above.

Although working to a tight budget, Bailey applied a striking level of ambition to his commission for Holy Trinity. He worked honestly and creatively with modest materials rather than compromise on the totality of the scheme. Bailey produced an internal layout that responded to the new ideas in church planning, which at this date were only being explored by the most innovative British church architects. Externally, his creative use of form and texture result in a building that is expressive of its time and place, but also of the ideas of continuity and tradition.

SOURCES: P Hammond, Liturgy and Architecture (1960) E Harwood, 'Liturgy and Architecture: Liturgical Reform and the Development of the Centralised Eucharist Space', The Journal of the Twentieth Century Society vol 3: The Twentieth Century Church (1998) p 49-74 E Harwood , England: a Guide to Post-War Listed Buildings (2003) J Newman, The Buildings of England: West Kent and the Weald (1979), p 294 G Randall, The English Parish Church (1982) p 174-175 'Competition Result: Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool' The Builder (26 August 1960) vol 199, p 362-375 'The Dutch Church, Austin Friars, EC' The Builder (10 September 1954) vol 187, p 411-417 Various original documents relating to the building are held in the Church of England Record Centre at Lambeth Palace Library

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Holy Trinity Church, Twydall Lane, Gillingham is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * architectural interest: in its creative use of traditional materials and bold modern forms, Holy Trinity is a dramatic and expressive response to the concepts of modernity and continuity in the English parish church. * intactness: the building is almost completely unaltered; the near complete survival of the liturgical furniture, fixtures and fittings, designed by the architect, is particularly noteworthy. * historic interest: the internal arrangement of the church displays an early response to the ideas of the Liturgical Movement which became a dominant force in post-war church planning from the 1960s onwards.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
507592
Legacy System:
LBS

Legal

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

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