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Our Lady of Fatima

Harlow, United Kingdom
1 of 2© John East

Roman Catholic parish church was built 1958-60 to the designs of Gerard Goalen. T-shaped plan of almost equal arms, each with a narthex and aisles, and whose central crossing is filled by a large apron-shaped sanctuary. Father Burgess's brief was for a church capable of holding up to 500 parishioners, set as close as possible to the altar. The sanctuary was to be generously sized, and the altar was to be free-standing. This was a radical brief for 1953, and if funds had been available to start building when the plans were approved, in January 1954, this would have been the first post-war church in England built under the auspices of the Liturgical Movement. A model of the church was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1956. The foundation stone was laid on 6 December 1958, and the church was opened and blessed by the Bishop of Brentwood on 26 March 1960. Thus, despite the delays it remains one of the first liturgically-planned churches in England. It was the first to combine this with modern glass, already so popular in France, Germany and Switzerland, where Goalen had travelled extensively. The church was extremely influential, and led to Goalen setting up in private practice designing Roman Catholic churches and schools across England.