Blackmore Park - St Alphonsus

Blackmore Park, Hanley Swan, Worcestershire WR8

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An elaborate mid-nineteenth century Gothic Revival church, built for the Redemptorist order by John Vincent Gandolfi on the edge of his country estate, and designed by Charles Hansom with the active assistance of Bishop Ullathorne. Its design is based on the mid-thirteenth century church at Skelton, Yorkshire. The interior is richly fitted, with fittings by A. W. Pugin, who is also credited with the design of the lychgate. Hansom’s former monastery, attached to the church, is now a private house.

The Blackmore estate was acquired by the Hornyold family in the sixteenth century. In 1808 Teresa Hornyold married John Vincent Gandolfi, a Genoese silk merchant living in London. During the first half of the nineteenth century the family wealth was considerably increased by selling land for development in Great Malvern. Teresa’s son, also John Vincent Gandolfi, was educated at Oscott and when her brother Thomas Charles Hornyold died in 1859, John Vincent inherited the Blackmore estate. Fifteen years earlier, in 1844, he had persuaded his uncle to give some land on the edge of the estate for a new Catholic church, for which John Vincent chose the designers and paid the building costs. He also rebuilt the mansion at Blackmore, which had its own chapel. He died in 1902, and the house was demolished in 1925.

The architect John Vincent Gandolfi chose was Charles Hansom (1817-88) a friend, fellow Yorkshireman and protégé of Bishop Ullathorne, who widely recommended Hansom in preference to A. W. Pugin, saying he ‘could do all that Mr Pugin could’.  In the event, Hansom designed the church and Pugin designed most of the fittings. Bishop Ullathorne apparently helped with the design of the building. His autobiography notes ‘I had had something to say in the designing of that beautiful church [at Blackmore], the nave of which is an adaptation of the one at Skelton, near York … And the porch at Blackmore, one of the most beautiful of modern designs, was planned by Mr Hansom at my suggestion … I had also suggested the adoption of the Decorated style in the chancel, so as to express in the transition from the plain lancet of the nave into the more floriated and lightsome, the passage from the secular to the sacred and more mystical portion of the building…’ Work began in 1844 and the completed church was opened and consecrated by Dr Wiseman on 19 August 1846. ‘The only unfavourable circumstance of this happy day was the rain which fell almost incessantly’ (The Tablet).

The interior of the church was lavishly furnished. Every window had glass by William Wailes, the floors were covered with tiles made by Minton to the design of A. W. Pugin. All the metalwork was made by Hardman & Co., also to Pugin’s design.  It was described by Phoebe Stanton as ‘unquestionably the most representative collection’ of Pugin’s church metalwork.

Initially John Vincent Gandolfi arranged for the Redemptorist order to run the mission (their second foundation in England). They arrived in 1844, took up occupation in Hansom’s monastery building when it was finished in 1846, founded the mission at Upton on Severn in 1850 (with a small church also by Hansom) and left Blackmore in 1851. Thenceforward the Blackmore and Upton parishes became diocesan and continued in tandem until 1980, when they were united.  The parish priest lives at Upton, and the former monastery/presbytery at Blackmore is now let.

The list entry refers to the lavishness of the interior, but describes the furnishings only briefly, and appears to be cautious about the level of A. W. Pugin’s (documented) involvement. Major fixtures include the original stone high altar and side altars and the font by the south door, probably all designed by Pugin, the original timber screens to the sanctuary and side chapels, probably by Pugin, stained glass throughout the church by William Wailes, the brass coronae in the nave made by Hardman to Pugin’s design and some fine brasses including that to Charles Filica by Hardman and Pugin. The floors throughout the whole church are covered with ornamental glazed tiles made by Minton to Pugin’s design and the wrought iron gates in the porch were made by Hardman to Pugin’s design. All the altar fittings and most of the items of church plate were designed by Pugin. The organ (in the chamber off the north aisle) was restored and installed here in 1993; it was originally built in 1938 by the John Compton Organ Company for a Methodist church in Droitwich (on BIOS Register, see http://www.npor.org.uk/NPORView.html?RI=D01937).

LIST DESCRIPTION:

List entry Number: 1098781

Grade: II

Date first listed: 25-Mar-1968

 

HANLEY CASTLE CP HANLEY SWAN SO 84 SW 3/147 Church of Our Lady and St Alphonsus 25.3.68

 

GV II*

 

Roman Catholic church. 1846 by Charles Hansom. Rubble with limestone dressings and steep slate roof. Comprises a nave with north chapel, a lower chancel and a south porch. The nave is of three bays to the east of the porch and has chamfered lancet windows separated by buttresses. A string course with nailhead ornament rises over each window. The porch is gabled and has inner and outer pointed doorways which are deeply moulded with angle shafts and moulded capitals. The west wall has three lancet windows, the central one with angle shafts and dogtooth decoration. Above the east wall of the nave is a gabled bellcote with double pointed openings. The chancel is of two bays to the south and has 2-light windows under pointed heads with Geometrical tracery. The east window is of three lights with Geometrical tracery. The north window of the chancel is of two lights.

 

Interior: the porch has arcaded side walls and a ribbed stone keel vault. The nave arcades are of four bays and have pointed arches chamfered in two orders springing from piers of four clustered shafts. The nave has a plaster quadripartite vault with ribs springing from angel corbels. The chancel arch is moulded and pointed and has clustered shafts as responds. The chancel is ceiled and has stencilled decoration. The window reveals are stencilled and have angle shafts with foliated caps. At the east end is a reredos of five cusped ogee arches with carved angels in the spandrels. There are triple sedilia and a piscina. The eastern bays of the nave on the north and south side are enclosed by painted timber screens to form chapels. The northern one includes a tomb recess. The chancel screen is similar and has a rood. The internal fittings, of considerable lavishness, are thought to have been designed by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. These include pews, font, pulpit, lectern and chancel fittings. (BoE, p 188).

 

Listing NGR: SO8123143643

 

Presbytery

 

PRESBYTERY AND COVERED WAY CHURCH OF LADY AND ST ALPHONSUS

List entry Number: 1098782

Grade: II

Date first listed: 23-Feb-1987

 

HANLEY CASTLE CP HANLEY SWAN SO 84 SW 3/148 Presbytery and covered way, Church of Lady and St Alphonsus GV II

 

Presbytery and covered way. 1846 by Charles Hansom. Stone rubble with steep tile roofs. South wall of presbytery of three bays with one-bay cross-wing to right. On the ground floor the first and second bays each have a window of one trefoiled light. The third bay is covered on the ground floor by the link. The first floor windows are of two mullioned lights which rise into steeply-gabled attic dormers. The ground floor window of the cross-wing is of three trefoiled ogee lights under a flat head. The first floor window is of two trefoiled ogee lights with a quatrefoil. Timber bellcote on ridge. Two chimneys on ridge and one at left. The single-storey link has three windows facing west, each of two trefoiled ogee lights with quatrefoil, with a doorway and two buttresses to the right. The covered way links the presbytery with the Church of Our Lady and St Alphonsus (qv).

 

Listing NGR: SO8123843668

Diocese: Birmingham

Architect: Charles Hansom

Original Date: 1846

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II