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Sir Basil Spence

Building Notes on the parish church of St Hugh, Eyres Monsell

In 1955 the Bishop of Leicester wrote to Sir Basil Spence asking him if he could design St Aidan's Church in the New Parks area of Leicester, based on the three churches that he had already designed for the Diocese of Coventry. Spence explained that the cost of the three Coventry churches was kept down by building all of them to a similar design. This allowed contractors to use the same elements in each building. The experience at Coventry reminded the Bishop that the Diocese of Leicester were also looking to build a church on the new Eyres Monsell estate on the outskirts of the city. He suggested that Spence might be interested in this commission as well.

The design was built in two stages; a dual-purpose hall with tower and cloister that could be used for both services and community events, and a vicarage. These were completed in 1958. The church itself formed the second part of the scheme.

The church hall is constructed on steel portal frames stabilized by panels of brickwork at each end. The cloister is made entirely of timber and surrounds a paved court with a pool. A vergers' room, where church staff could prepare for services, forms part of the cloister and provides the base to the 56ft bell tower. This is built with 13½ inch brick walls with a top section made up of concrete beams that support the bells and a 22ft steel cross.

Archive Details and Summary

There are only two photographs of St Hugh's Church in the Sir Basil Spence Archive, both of which are dated 1955 and show a perspective of the proposed church. There are two manuscript files for this project including estimates and an outline location specification document for the church. Additional information on the church can be found in papers relating to St Aidan's Church, also held in the Archive. Also included are 56 drawings of the vicarage and of church furnishings such as the font, choir stalls and altar.

This text was written as one of the outputs of the Sir Basil Spence Archive Project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, 2005-08. Information about the project can be found at http://www.basilspence.org.uk

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