A garrison church of 1937 at Larkhill Camp, Wiltshire, by William A Ross ARIBA, chief architect to the War Office.
Reasons for Designation
The Church of St Alban the Martyr, Larkhill, dating from 1937 and designed by William A Ross ARIBA, Chief Architect to the War Office, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a Swedish-influenced design, well-massed and articulated, and progressive for its date, particularly as a military commission;
* Historical interest: embodies the large-scale rebuilding at Larkhill prior to and during the Second Word War by the Royal Artillery;
* Intactness: it survives well, including a complete original interior with well-crafted fittings;
* Group Value: with the nearby Officers’ Mess it makes a convincing and monumental architectural statement at the entrance to the camp, despite the two no longer being intervisible due to the growth of trees.
Following the purchase of Salisbury Plain by the War Office as a training area in 1898, Larkhill was one of three sites established for tented summer camps close to an artillery practice in the area. During the First World War Larkhill Camp was greatly enlarged, with the need to accommodate and train many thousands of new recruits, and a large number of wooden huts were constructed. In 1915 the School of Instruction for the Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery were established at Larkhill and in 1919 it became the Larkhill School of Artillery, and finally the Royal School of Artillery in 1970. A timber and corrugated iron garrison church was built by Christmas 1915 to serve the needs of the large number of servicemen stationed there in the First World War.
During the interwar period the camp was reduced in size and some buildings replaced with permanent structures. In 1937 the present brick church by William A Ross was built to the south-west of the original garrison church, the latter being subsequently demolished. Ross also designed the Royal Artillery Officers’ Mess (LA320) at Larkhill. The foundation stone was laid on 22nd January 1937 by General Sir John T Burnett-Stuart of Southern Command. The clock was installed in 1953 to mark the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (the Regiment’s Captain General). The camp was extensively rebuilt in the 1960s and again from about 2010. Following the closure of the Woolwich Barracks in the early C21, the church was re-dedicated as the Regimental Church for the Royal Artillery. Many fittings, including stained glass windows (one by Christopher Whall) and plaques have since been moved to St Alban the Martyr. These were displaced when the Thomas Wyatt Regimental Church in Woolwich was largely destroyed by a V1 rocket attack in 1944. Larkhill has been subject to almost continuous adaptation to changing needs and in the C21 is undergoing further development to accommodate the withdrawal of British troops from Germany. The Royal Artillery is celebrating its tercentenary year in 2016.
A garrison church of 1937 by William A Ross ARIBA, chief architect to the War Office, and re-dedicated as the regimental church of the Royal Artillery in 2011.
MATERIALS: constructed of red brick, shaped to form moulding at the windows, entrances and for decoration. It has a very shallow, pitched, copper roof.
PLAN: rectangular on plan, a seven-bay church with a passage-aisled nave, apsidal chancel, sanctuary, north and south porches at the eastern end, south-west tower, and a north-west baptistry.
EXTERIOR: the church has tall, narrow, pointed-arch lancets with small-pane glazing in a Swedish-influenced style. The west elevation has a full-height, two-stage portico reflecting the shape of the gable end and enclosing the window at upper level. The lower level stands forward with two-leaf panelled doors and a stone cross apex terminal. The passage-aisles are flat-roofed and stand forward from the nave; each bay with a lancet window. There are entrances to the east. Corresponding nave bays have taller lancets under shallow arches and are separated by buttresses. The south elevation has two lancets and a set-back rectangular belfry with three louvred rectangular openings and an openwork clock on west elevation. The north elevation has a rectangular, flat-roofed vestry (east end) and chapel (west end). The chancel is narrower than the nave with three grouped lancets to the north and south. The east end has a polygonal, flat-roofed, windowless sanctuary, the angles with crossed bricks. The sanctuary has a stone cross on the roof, and there is a datestone above the sanctuary plinth inscribed: TO THE GLORY OF GOD/ THIS STONE WAS LAID BY/ GENERAL/ SIR JOHN T. BURNETT STUART. K.C.B.,/ K.B.E., C.M.G., D.S.O.,/ GENERAL OFFICER COMMANDING-IN-CHIEF/ SOUTHERN COMMAND/ 22ND JANUARY 1937. There are lead rainwater heads and pipes.
INTERIOR: exposed brick with mouldings reflecting those of the exterior. Each bay of the nave has a pilaster strip with brick corbels supporting shallow pitched, exposed timber rafters carrying purlins. There are opposing north/south double doors at the chancel end of the nave. At the north-west end is a chapel with double doors. The aisle bays have shallow-pointed arches. The chancel has a plain, plastered roof with a shallow-pointed arch chancel arch, and the floor is laid in quarry tiles. Set within the north wall of the chancel, under a pointed arch, is an organ by Daniel of Clevedon. The sanctuary, although polygonal externally, forms a plain, shallow, round-arched, plastered niche internally with a plain timber cross and a carved timber altar decorated with statuary. The panelled oak pews, stalls, organ case, pulpit and lectern are original. The rear pews have decoration and are probably reused from elsewhere. At the south-west corner of the nave is a polygonal, stone stemmed font with an oak lid. The bowl has arrow-head enrichment to alternating facets. At the west end of the south aisle is a steel spiral stair to the bell tower. There is some good regimental stained glass, some of which had been moved from other locations. The panelled oak doors across the church have brass Art Deco style furniture.
Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the stained glass windows, plaques and all items moved here after 2006, and also all modern fixtures and fittings (.e.g the new kitchen and bathroom) are not of special architectural or historic interest and should be excluded from any designation.