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Church of St Andrew with attached walls to south-east

A Grade II Listed Building in Biscot, Luton

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.8929 / 51°53'34"N

Longitude: -0.428 / 0°25'40"W

OS Eastings: 508273

OS Northings: 222759

OS Grid: TL082227

Mapcode National: GBR TQX.H7

Mapcode Global: VHFRF.JPL9

Entry Name: Church of St Andrew with attached walls to south-east

Listing Date: 19 March 1981

Last Amended: 2 August 2012

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1200358

English Heritage Legacy ID: 350244

Location: Luton, LU3

County: Luton

Electoral Ward/Division: Biscot

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Luton

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Luton St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

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Summary

Church built in 1931-2 to the designs of Giles Gilbert Scott.

Description

Church built in 1931-2 to the designs of Giles Gilbert Scott.

MATERIALS: Brown brick laid in English garden-wall bond with stone dressings and a roof covering of Lombardic tiles.

PLAN: Long parallelogram with a wide nave and narrow north-east and south-west aisle passages; tower to the south-east; and chancel to the north-west. The Lady Chapel is at the north end of the north-east front, and the vestries at the north end of the south-west front.

EXTERIOR: The church has an austere, monumental quality both inside and out. The massive south-east tower has shallow crenellations and set-back buttresses with gablets but no off-sets. The double-height, pointed arched portal, five bricks deep, is pierced by three lancets grouped under a pointed arch, which have diamond leaded lights, simple moulded brick surrounds and a stone sill, as have all the windows. The entrance, reached via a flight of four steps, consists of studded double-leaf plank doors with fillets and diagonal strap hinges, set in a square-headed, moulded stone architrave with blocked jambs. The highest stage of the tower is pierced on all sides by narrow square-headed openings with louvre slats, nine on the front and eight on the other sides. There is a group of three square-headed windows at ground-floor level on the south-west and north-east sides of the tower, and the latter side also has small windows lighting the staircase. The long north-east and south-west sides are divided into five bays by prominent sloping buttresses with tumbled in brickwork and gablets which project above the roof of the nave. The aisles, under lean-to roofs, are blind, whilst each bay of the clerestory is lit by a series of eight, narrow arched windows. In the fourth bay on the north-east side is a door similar to that in the tower except it is single-leaf and has a simpler stone architrave. The single-storey Lady Chapel, which projects from the fifth bay, has a hipped roof with bonnet tiles, and is lit on two sides by a group of four square-headed windows. On the south-west side, the vestries project in a similar form from the chancel.

INTERIOR: The interior of the church is plastered and has a ribbed, timber roof. It is dominated by six prominent tranverse arches of reinforced concrete which rise to a shallow point, creating a wide nave with arcades of semicircular arches, all plain and without mouldings. The piers of the front two arches are fully articulated to define the chancel whereas the other piers almost disappear into the arcade, forming shallow pilasters. The narrow aisle passageways, unlit by any windows, are typical of Scott's churches, as is the absence of a (liturgical) east window. The clerestory windows have semicircular brick arches and pronounced raking sills. The timber choir stalls, pews, altar rails and pulpit have a coherent design, some embellished with carved panels which have a cusped and foliated motif. The studded plank and batten doors retain their strap hinges and upright handles. On the rear wall behind the altar is a dossel with a delicate, gilded canopy, and the choir seats face each other across the chancel. On the north-east side of the chancel the late C20 organ is encased in the decorative timber panelling from the original organ in the gallery; and on the south-west side is the pulpit with carved panels resting on a moulded stone plinth. In the Lady Chapel the stained glass window to the left of the altar depicts the Annunciation and a medallion shows a hospital nursing scene; and that to the right depicts the Feeding of the Five Thousand and a medallion shows a scene of ball-bearing manufacture (a local industry). Both windows have brick mullions, a chamfered timber lintel and stone sill. The arch leading to the Lady Chapel has been glazed. The baptistry in the tower has a polygonal, moulded stone font, and stained glass windows similar to those in the Lady Chapel. That on the south-west side depicts the Baptism of Christ by St John the Baptist and has a medallion showing the baptism of a child; and that on the north-east side depicts the Resurrection. The gallery above is now empty after the organ was removed. The two bays at the south-east end of the nave, separated by a glazed partition, were converted in 2010 to provide meeting and catering facilities in the aisle passages. The fixed pews were removed in these bays but have been reused for church furniture and also incorporated into the screens in front of the aisle passages.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: Attached to the front corners of the tower are low brick walls which incorporate three pairs of gate piers which have flat stone caps. The original timber gates have been replaced with metal ones.

History

As Luton expanded northwards in the late C19, it became necessary to provide an additional church for the parish of Christ Church. An iron mission room was erected in 1886, but by 1904 it was suggested that a permanent church should be built. In 1926 a gift of £5000 gave impetus for energetic fundraising and in 1927 Giles Gilbert Scott was chosen as the architect. The builder was Arthur W. Oakley. The project correspondence and specification of works (1931-32) is deposited at the RIBA. The foundation stone was laid in July 1931 and the completed church was consecrated in December 1933, the same year in which St Andrew’s finally became a parish. The church was included in the Incorporated Church Building Society’s New Churches Illustrated (1936) which mentioned that it had a floor heating system, lighting by electric pendants from the roof (since removed), concealed flood-lighting in the sanctuary, and furniture designed by the architect. The photographs show large oak casings in the south-east gallery, behind which the organ was originally located. It is possible that Scott envisaged the choir to be in the gallery too as it had been intended for pews to be installed there. In the end, the choir was positioned at the north-west end in the collegiate antiphonal position (with two halves facing each other). The distance between the organ at the end of the nave and the pipes in the gallery caused difficulties in synchronising the organ and choir, so in 1981 a smaller organ with pipes was installed next to the choir, and the oak casings were removed to this new position. The stained glass windows in the Lady Chapel and Baptistry, designed by John Lawson, were added in 1969-73. Alterations took place in 2010 to create a hall, meeting rooms, kitchen and lavatory facilities in the south-east end of the nave, with the north-west end being retained for worship. The conversion has been carried out sympathetically with the redundant pews being reused for timber and furniture. The alterations also included the installation of glazing in the arch between the nave and Lady Chapel.

Giles Gilbert Scott (1880-1960), the grandson of George Gilbert Scott, is one of the most significant architects of the C20. He was articled to Temple Moore before winning the competition for Liverpool Cathedral early on in his career. The cathedral was consecrated in 1924 after which Scott was knighted. His output was considerable and varied: he designed churches, power stations, and street furniture, notably the telephone box, as well as mansion flats and university buildings, including Cambridge University Library (1929). Scott was President of the RIBA from 1933 to 1935 and received the Order of Merit in 1944.

Reasons for Listing

The Church of St Andrew is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: it is a well composed, boldly massed church, punctuated by pared down Gothic detailing, which demonstrates Scott’s typically considered use of building materials.
* Plan form: it is a particularly good example of an inter-war church with its distinctive contemporary expression but traditional plan form incorporating a defined chancel containing the choir.
* Interior: the fixtures and fittings, designed by Scott, are the most elaborately detailed elements in the church. They are of a fine quality and craftsmanship, and add significantly to the architectural interest of the church.
* Architect: it was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, one of the most accomplished and sophisticated inter-war ecclesiastical designers in Britain.

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