St. Mark’s, Milne Street, Chadderton
George Gaze Pace, 1962-3
What does Professor Pevsner say?: “One must leave it to Mr. Pace – he is always fresh and never afraid of experiment, and he does not follow all the latest fashions. This is an interesting church, with the forked timbers supports of the roof inside, with the windows of many lights with broad flush unmoulded mullions and broad flush transoms in random places, and the tower with its steep saddleback roof. The gables have small windows in five tiers. The font perhaps has really too odd a shape but, once again, Mr. Pace is capable of convincing his clients that they must let him have his way.”
Elain Harwood suggests that, “there is a strong northern sensibility, reminiscent of Charles Rennie Mackintosh or E.S.Prior’s St. Andrew, Roker (1905-7)”. She notes that “Pace’s earliest designs are simple rendered halls for a congregation and sanctuary set in a single rectangular space. This changed in the late 1950s. As more non-orthogonal plans from mainland Europe became known, so his spaces became more organic. He expressed his materials – whether rough stone, concrete or brick – with increasing force and honesty. His penchant for punching small rectangular openings through these walls evolved from a Romanesque symmetry to a loose patterning reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp.”
“This process reaches its maturity at St. Mark, which apes the local industrial aesthetic in its glossy unadorned engineering brick. Only the saddleback tower is reminiscent of Pace’s earlier work. A lattice pattern of windows dominates the interior, whose barn-like quality is enforced with giant forked posts of laminated timber. The church is entirely traditional in spirit – yet Nikolaus Pevsner could rightly term it “raw and wild” for its very simplicity”.