By Margaret Connolly
THE Church of Christ the King, in Bitterne, Southampton, has been named as one of the four best buildings constructed in the counties of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in the three years up to the end of 1961. The Royal Institute of British Architects Committee, who judged the entries, announced their decision last week. The Church, which gained third place, was the only religious building among the winning entries.
The news had only just got through to Fr. Denis Walshe, the parish priest, when I saw him on Friday evening. He told me that the designers, E. N. Galloway and Partners, are a local firm, and that this was their first church building. Fr. Walshe admitted that he had personally influenced the design by stressing the need for simplicity, and for concentration upon the main altar.
Opened in September, 1960, the church, built in golden grey brick, has an Italian flavour in its spreadout proportions and separate campanile, which is 75 feet high, and holds two bells. The smaller bell, activated by an automatic timeswitch. rings the Angelus.
Inside the church, there is a combination of oak and natural brick, so that the massive floor-to-ceilingside window in the sanctuary in creases the concentration of vision on the marble altar. In the baptistry, there is an egg-shaped font.
Fr. Walshe told me that the interior of the church is not yet finished. Designs for the Stations of the Cross, in linden wood, are even now being studied. The cost has already been covered by subscriptions.
In addition, half the cost of the Lady Altar has already been collected, and a statue, in marble, of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, is shortly to be made. It will be a replica of the statue erected over the Church of Holy Mary of the Angels, in Assisi. which is reputed once to have moved. Plans are also being prepared for Biblical figures, in mosaic, to be placed on the interior walls of the Church.
"I wonder what the impact on architects and designers will be when the church is finished," said Fr. Walshe, as 1 left him.