Skip to content

Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:

Date of Construction:
1960 - 1979

Address :
St. Bernadette's R C Church 113 Rosetta Road Belfast County Antrim BT6 0LS


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
20/08/2012 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
J3590 7085

Owner Category

Church - RC

Exterior Description And Setting

A modern Catholic Church completed in 1967 to the designs of P&B Gregory; fan-shaped plan with projecting single storey accommodation to the circumference and wings. Located adjacent to the junction of Knock Carriageway and Rosetta Road, approximately 2 miles south east of Belfast City Centre. Flat roof construction. Grey brick stretcher bond walling laid between large exposed board-marked in-situ concrete beams and columns, painted white. Concealed rainwater goods. Irregular coloured glass blocks laid into a fibrous hard
setting resin compound, forming an abstracted composition set into aluminum framed panels (timber famed to ground floor). Contemporary stained-glass windows to the altar. Slightly projecting canopy over front entrance which comprises a series of mahogany timber doors with uniform vertical glazing; bronze ironmongery. The principal elevation is a sweeping curved façade extending from east to south west and comprising 11 symmetrical conjoining segments, abutted at ground floor by flat roofed single storey accommodation. The front entrance is located centrally with a pair of smaller side entrances located to the sides of the façade; between which are four uniformly arranged paired narrow vertical strips of glazing. Each segment of the double height façade comprises a large in-situ concrete segmental arch frame forming a continuous parapet wall. Each arch is infilled with the abstract glazed panels with a central smooth finished concrete screen comprising a series of staggered flat-pyramids, separated on the vertical by narrow glazed strips. The roof rises over the altar to form a clerestory of stain glass windows, surmounted by a cross. The northwest elevation is asymmetrically arranged comprising a large blank façade abutted at ground floor level by single storey accommodation with a double leaf side entrance located left of centre; either end of the single storey portion is projected; small horizontal window to the right and full height stained-glass window to the left cheek of the left projection. On the left side of the façade is the altar; a tall curved façade rising above the main body of the church and embracing the corner between the northwest and north elevation, forming the nucleus for the radiating plan form. The right cheek of the altar projection comprises a triplet of tall vertical stained glass windows with three diminished-in-height windows at clerestory level. The north elevation is similar to the northwest elevation with exception of the single storey abutment comprising a rear entrance door located left of centre with full height timber framed vertical stained glass windows to either side; single leaf exit door located on the right cheek adjacent to window. Setting: The church sits secluded from the adjacent carriageway, screened by planting. The east of the site is bounded by a road, beyond which is two-storey detached housing. Immediately to the north of the church is a large car park which surrounds the adjacent parochial hall erected c.1985 to the designs of Gregory Architects. To the west is St Bridgette’s Primary School. Roofing: Asphalt Walling: Board-marked in-situ concretand concrete brick Windows: Stained glass RWG: Concealed


Gregory, Padraic

Historical Information

St Bernadette’s church was built to designs by Brian Gregory of P & B Gregory in 1966 and is first shown on the OS map dating from the 1960s/70s captioned ‘R C Ch’. The church enters valuation records in 1968 at a valuation of £2,400. A primary school is associated with the church and is shown on the site to the west. (Larmour; Second General Re-valuation) This area of Belfast was developed in the post-war period, when the housing boom of the 1950s and 60s saw large housing estates spreading across what had formerly been farmland. It was Northern Ireland Housing Trust policy at this time to ‘decant’ tenants from overcrowded housing, judged to be substandard, to newly-built estates in the suburbs, but this was also a period when the catholic population of Belfast was growing, both in absolute terms and proportionately. An expanding catholic middle class was also seeking private housing in the suburbs. (Bardon; Glendinning and Muthesius) The church is said to be an exact copy of a church designed by the architect and built in South Africa. (Sacristy information) It is capable of seating over 1000 people, who, because of the fan-shape of the interior are all able to be in close proximity to the altar. A symbolic colour sequence of stained glass in the south facade acts as a sun dial as light passes from east to west. The large bronze sculpture is by Elizabeth Frink (1930-1993), one of Britain’s leading sculptors who was eventually created a dame. The altarpiece created for St Bernadette’s is very similar to Frink’s work for the altar of the Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool (1967) and like the Liverpool altarpiece reduces the material cross to a mere suggestion. (Evans; Irish Times) Woodcarvings are by Ian Stewart and stations of the cross by Neil Murphy. The wrought iron grilles to the Mortuary Chapel and Baptistry are by Ray Caroll and the stained glass is the work of Father Charles Norris. Due to demographic changes since the church was built, it now finds itself situated within a largely protestant hinterland and church membership has declined in recent years. (Evans, Sacristy Information) References: Primary Sources OS Map 147 – 1960s/70s VAL/4/B/3/20 – Second General Revaluation 1957-72 Irish Times Monday 5th June, 1967 Sacristy Information Secondary Sources Bardon, J “Belfast, An Illustrated History” Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1982 Evans, D “An Introduction to Modern Ulster Architecture” Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1977 Glendinning, M and Muthesius, S “Tower Block, Modern Public Housing in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland” London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994 Larmour, Paul “Belfast – An Illustrated Architectural Guide” Belfast: Friar’s Bush press, 1987

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form F. Structural System I. Quality and survival of Interior

Historic Interest

W. Northern Ireland/International Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance V. Authorship


A large modern Roman Catholic church, completed in 1967 to designs by P&B Gregory. The church is composed on an unusual tiered fan-shaped plan form, with detailing concentrated on the curved façade in contrast with the austere elevations to north and north-west, which lack ornamentation. The church is distinguished by the use of high quality contemporary materials and construction techniques, on a large scale which is comparatively rare within the context of Northern Ireland. Of particular note is the stained glass, which uses subtle grading of the colour spectrum from east to west to reflect the path of the sun throughout the day. The interiors are further enriched with some fine pieces of contemporary sculpture and craftsmanship, the focal point being the suspended sculpture by Elizabeth Frink of the risen Christ over the altar. Moving away from the traditional layout, the open plan form is well arranged providing a simple and effective relationship between the main body of the church and the ancillary accommodation. Little altered since the time of its construction, St Bernadette’s is of special architectural interest as an exceptionally well detailed and proportioned mid twentieth century church.

General Comments

Listing Criteria: R - Age and S- Authenticity are also applicable to this church.

Date of Survey

30 June 2011