Inching along with Swindon in 50 More Buildings, this post is about St Augustine’s Church Swindon, Rodbourne. Having covered St Mark’s and St Barnabas (Gorse Hill) in Swindon in 50 Buildings, I had to get St Augustine’s into this blog series.
An Agreeable Church and a Railway Church: St Augustine’s Church Swindon
I have to say, I think this is a delightful church. Perhaps because it’s a brick rather than stone building, the church has a warmth to it. Sir John Betjeman visited it several times and even invited its choir to his Wantage estate. I enjoyed my visit to it anyway.
Along with first St Mark’s (by the GWR Park) then St Barnabas in Gorse Hill and St Luke’s on Broad Street, St Augustine’s came into being to meet the spiritual needs of the burgeoning population of New Swindon. Those who came to Swindon to work in the GWR Works.
Designed by W A H Masters the church is in the Diocese of Bristol and province of Canterbury. It’s dedicated to St Augustine of Canterbury and is one of only a few churches Roman Basilica style churches in the south of England.
Fleur Kelly completed a series of gorgeous Byzantine artworks, like the one below, between 1987 and 1995.
Visit the church , and I urge you so to do, and you’ll find they have a handy leaflet that gives a short tour of the church and a brief history. It tells us that: ‘The acoustics in the church are good and that there’s a strong musical tradition there. In its early years, the choir often numbered 50 voices, singing in churches and cathedrals across the country.
Back in the 1960s, the church choir presented a steam locomotive plate to the choir of Westminster Abbey. And while we’re on the subject of trains – the following is lovely to see:
St Augustine’s began life as a former schoolroom, across the road from where Daniel (Sir) Gooch House now stands.
Church records show the earliest recorded baptism as being in 1885, while the licence for the performance of Divine Services was issued on 2nd April 1881.
And I loved these mosaics. Having seen them on the church’s Instagram feed I wanted to see them for myself.
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
And lastly – the loaves and the fishes: