Now this is going to be an usual entry as this is a modern church (27 years old) that lies to the north of the busy A6 in Oadby. It has no history as such, and it is sited in the middle of a large new housing estate. Some of you may be thinking why this is on the website?
Well although St Paul’s is not the official Parish church (that is St Peter’s) it does play an important part in the parish. The busy A6 that splits Oadby is the main reason a church was built with St Paul’s becoming the church for the northern half of Oadby and the parish church of St Peter’s looking after the southern half.
The differences do not end here as St Paul’s is a vibrant church in the open-evangelical tradition whilst St Peter’s is of a more ‘traditional’ nature. The history of the parish is covered in the entry for St Peter’s that being the medieval parish church, but suffice to say the village (now a town) has been occupied from around 550AD and today has a population of around 23,000.
St Paul’s was built in 1982 in a large residential estate that so typifies Oadby, this being a major commuter town for nearby Leicester which it is a suburb to. From the outside it has a ‘Nordic’ appearance with its wood and angular architecture and this is carried through to the inside as well. It does not have a layout which would correspond to a ‘normal’ church, so this will be my attempt. The entrance lobby has toilets and offices to one side and there is a small chapel to the other. Two sets of doors lead into the main ‘nave’ and ‘chancel’ areas, though it is probably best to describe this as a large auditorium or hall.
The roof line is high and sloping and as stated before is Nordic in appearance. There is plenty of light from the southern windows and north skylight and the lacquered wood panelling gives the room a warm feeling.
No pews of course and little in the way of decoration, the altar is at the east end of the church and slightly raised on a platform. I may have given the impression that I prefer the old churches more than the new ones, but if the truth be known after visiting a couple of these buildings I can see the flexibility they give in being able to support more functions than the older parish churches. They are of course churches and places of worship, but they also serve more easily as a community centre for other functions and draw more people in. Perhaps this is the way our older less used parish churches should be going, this may mean removing the pews and installing moveable seating, installing toilets and kitchen facilities and I know this is expensive. But it would give our historical buildings an extra facet and new lease of life for the local community. A place of worship yes, but also a community asset.
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