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In pictures: UK's best modern church revealed

Robert Maguire and Keith Murray’s ‘hugely influential’ St Paul’s Bow Common in East London, has been crowned the best modern church built in the last 60 years

The Anglican Church in Bow Common, East London - which was controversial at the time it was consecrated in 1960 - was handed the accolade by competition-backers The National Churches Trust, the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association, and the 20th Century Society.

The building was described by the judges as the ‘embodiment of the ground swell of ideas about Christian worship’ and a ‘hugely influential signpost for future Anglican liturgy’.

The grade II*-listed building saw off an impressive 20-strong shortlist of post-war churches which included Niall McLaughlin’s 2013 Stirling Prize-nominated Bishop Edward King Chapel in Oxford - the only church built in the last decade to make the top ten.

More than 200 churches were nominated for the awards which mark the sixtieth-anniversary of the National Churches Trust. The awards were judged by architecture critic Jonathan Glancey, chief executive of the 20th-century society Catherine Croft, Sherry Bates, president of the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association, and trustee of the National Churches Trust Richard Carr-Archer.

The top ten modern churches

1. St Paul’s Bow Common, London (1960)

Maguire and Murray

Winner National Churches Trust Diamond Jubilee Award: St Paul’s Church, London by Maguire and Murray (1960)

Source: Steve Cadman

Winner National Churches Trust Diamond Jubilee Award: St Paul’s Church, London by Maguire and Murray (1960)

Judges’ comments

Hugely influential and a signpost for future Anglican liturgy. This building is the embodiment of the ground swell of ideas about Christian worship, loosely termed the Liturgical Movement, that swept Europe and the United States after the Second World War. According to this thinking, the church as a building is first and foremost a liturgical space a house for the performance of the liturgy and the gathering of the community. The design of this church is prefigured by the analysis of George Addleshaw, Dean of Chester and Frederick Etchells in The Architectural Setting of Anglican Worship (1948) and many of its ideas have since been reprised in Richard Giles Repitching the Tent (1996). To many they still seem new.

2. St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Lancashire (1964)

Weightman and Bullen

Winner National Churches Trust Silver Award: St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Lancashire by Weightman and Bullen (1964)

Source: Matthew Byrne

Winner National Churches Trust Silver Award: St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Lancashire by Weightman and Bullen (1964)

Judges’ comments

A fine example of a post Vatican 2 church in the round. There is an amazing variety of expressive form which is beautifully composed as a whole. It is also very carefully sited with much consideration given to the surrounding landscaping. Lovely ‘dalle de verre’ glass by Patrick Reyntian. Elegantly articulated with a strong architectural form. Works well inside and out.

3. St Bride’s Roman Catholic Church, Lanarkshire (1964)

Gillespie Kidd and Coia

Winner National Churches Trust Bronze Award: St Bride’s Roman Catholic Church, Lanarkshire by Gillespie Kidd and Coia (1964)

Source: Dan Farrar

Winner National Churches Trust Bronze Award: St Bride’s Roman Catholic Church, Lanarkshire by Gillespie Kidd and Coia (1964)

Judges’ comments

A tour de force of powerful form subtlety inflected, a seemingly unforgiving massif of brick revealing carefully considered but sparely created details that relate very well to the function of building as a post-Vatican 2 church. There is nothing here out of place.

4. Bishop Edward King Chapel, Oxford (2013)

Niall McLaughlin Architects

Bishop Edward King Chapel, Oxford by Niall McLaughlin Architects (2013)

Bishop Edward King Chapel, Oxford by Niall McLaughlin Architects (2013)

Judges’ comments

A treat to look at, architecturally elegant, with a lovely intimate reflective interior.

5. St Mark’s Church, Sheffield (1963)

George Pace

St Mark’s Church, Sheffield by George Pace (1963)

Source: Aidan McRae Thomson

St Mark’s Church, Sheffield by George Pace (1963)

Judges’ comments

One of George Pace’s best and typical of him, a very good re-build and a model to cherish. Quite spectacular John Piper glass fills one of the re-built walls. Incredibly well detailed. Pace is one of the most influential and prolific architects of the 20th century.

6. St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Falkirk (1961)

AR Conlin

St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Falkirk by A R Coniln (1961)

Source: Stephen L D’Agostino

St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Falkirk by A R Coniln (1961)

Judges’ comments

A most unusual and arresting exterior, surely worthy of listing.

7. Scargill Chapel, Yorkshire (1960)

George Pace

Scargill Chapel, Yorkshire by George Pace (1960)

Source: Tim Sully

Scargill Chapel, Yorkshire by George Pace (1960)

Judges’ comments

A simple A Frame gives it a strong form which fits into its landscape beautifully, greatly loved in Yorkshire. Very elegant as a building inside and out.

8. St Paul the Apostle, London (1991)

Inskip and Jenkins

St Paul the Apostle, London by Inskip and Jenkins (1991)

Source: Philip Whitehead

St Paul the Apostle, London by Inskip and Jenkins (1991)

Judges’ comments

A strong but simple external form owing a debt to Aldo Rossi, nicely articulated and a cool prayerful interior - one of the best more recent churches.

9. Kildrum Parish Church, Cumbernauld (1965)

Reiach and Hall

Kildrum Parish Church, Cumbernauld by Reiach and Hall (1965)

Source: Peter Atkinson

Kildrum Parish Church, Cumbernauld by Reiach and Hall (1965)

Judges’ comments

An elegant ‘Miesian’ box, having a simplicity inside and out usually associated with Scandinavian modern architecture. The church hall and manse are of a piece and the links have been carefully considered. The nave is well proportioned and unusually for a church the view to the outside has both been encouraged and carefully considered.

=10. St Paul’s Church, Essex (1959)

Derrick Humphrys and Hurst

St Paul’s Church, Essex by Derrick Humphreys (1959)

Source: Philip Whitehead

St Paul’s Church, Essex by Derrick Humphreys (1959)

Judges’ comments

Exactly as you would expect a ‘New Town’ church to look like…

=10. St Mary and Joseph Roman Catholic Church, London (1954)

Alan Gilbert Scott

St Mary and Joseph Roman Catholic Church, London by Alan Gilbert Scott (1954)

Source: Carl Goodwin

St Mary and Joseph Roman Catholic Church, London by Alan Gilbert Scott (1954)

Judges’ comments

Thoughtfully composed and is well-proportioned. The large brick forms tumble from the centre with distinctive sloping sides of the porch entrance echoed in the tall windows. Beautifully detailed.

Previous story (17.10.13)

In pictures: Shortlist for best modern church revealed

Churches by Niall McLaughlin, Gillespie Kidd and Coia, Reiach & Hall, and Inskip & Jenkins are all in the running to be crowned the UK’s best modern church

The National Churches Trust , the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association, and the 20th Century Society have launched a search to find the best church built since 1953.

Just three churches built in the last decade made the list, Niall McLaughlin’s Stirling Prize-nominated Bishop Edward King Chapel, Chapel of St Albert the Great by Simpson & Brown, and Thies & Kahn’s Lumen United Reformed Church.

The shortlist

  • All Saints Church, Croyden by Curtis Green (1956)
  • Bishop Edward King Chapel, Oxford by Niall McLaughlin Architects (2013)
  • Brucefield Church of Scotland, East Lothian by Rowand Anderson Kininmonth and Paul (1965)
  • Chapel of St Albert the Great by Simpson & Brown (2012)
  • Church of the Ascension, Plymouth by Potter and Hare (1958)
  • Church of the Ascension, Middlesex by J Harold Gibbons (1957)
  • Douai Abbey, Berkshire by Michael Blee (1993)
  • English Martyrs Roman Catholic Church, Cheshire by F X Verlarde (1953)
  • Kildrum Parish Church, Cumbernauld by Reiach & Hall (1965)
  • Lumen United Reformed Church, London by Thies & Kahn (2008)
  • Our Lady and St Columba Roman Catholic Church, Wallsend by Vincente Steinlet (1957)
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church, Derry by Liam McCormick (1976)
  • Scargill Chapel, Yorkshire by George Pace (1960)
  • St Mary and Joseph Roman Catholic Church, London by Alan Gilbert Scott (1954)
  • St Bride’s Roman Catholic Church, Lanarkshire by Gillespie Kidd and Coia (1964)
  • St Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church, Falkirk by A R Coniln (1961)
  • St John the Baptist, Lincoln by Sam Scorer (1963)
  • St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Leicester by T E Wilson (1968)
  • St Mark’s Church, Sheffield by George Pace (1963)
  • St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Lancashire by Weightman and Bullen (1964)
  • St Molua’s Church, Belfast by Denis O’D Hanna (1963)
  • St Paul the Apostle, London by Inskip & Jenkins (1991)
  • St Paul’s Church, London by Maguire & Murray (1960)
  • St Paul’s Church, Essex by Derrick Humphreys (1959)

Over 200 churches were nominated for the competition, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the National Churches Trust, by members of the public, churches and heritage organisations.

From the 20-strong shortlist, the judges will crown the Top 10 Best Modern Churches and award a National Churches Trust Diamond Jubilee Architecture prize to three places of worship judged to be the best sacred spaces built in the last 60 years.

The winners will be revealed on 7 November 2013. 

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