ABSTRACT

Roman Catholic church architecture in post-war Britain was prodigious and creative, testament to the vitality of the Church at the time. It was the product of architects, often in tandem with artists, many with clear and innovative ideas, working with a clergy eager to obtain the best and most appropriate buildings for their people. Congregations, at a historical peak of participation in parishes, equally wanted churches and worked together to achieve them. Town planners enabled and further motivated church-building. Churches were designed to be outward-facing, presenting Catholic communities to contemporary society in order to claim a stake within it. Church architecture represented cultural capital, as economic capital was put to use to elevate the status of the institution and its people. Nevertheless churches were also functioning spaces, housing the distinctive religious practices of an enthusiastic faithful. This was a period characterised by huge changes and upheavals: in the forms of cities and the lives of their inhabitants, which were followed by the Church; in liturgical and devotional worship and in theological conceptions of the Church’s place in society; in architectural forms and methods. Yet, at least until the end of this period, the one common conviction was that the church building had an important role to play, above all in bringing the faithful together to constitute a social body, constructing the Church as a reality in all its varied local manifestations.