Broadway - St Saviour

Leamington Road, Broadway, Worcestershire WR12

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A small chapel of considerable historic interest. Originally built as a chapel for a Benedictine community around the time of Catholic Emancipation, both monastery and chapel were taken over by the Passionists in 1850, when alterations to the chapel were carried out, possibly by Charles Hansom. The interior decoration was simplified in the twentieth century but much original and early fabric remains. The Passionists left in 2000 and the former monastery and retreat house have been converted to flats.  

The church was built in 1828-9 and officially opened on 8 September 1832 as a chapel dedicated to St Adrian and St Dionysius. It was intended to serve a Benedictine monastery which was built adjacent to the chapel from 1830 by Augustine Birdsall OSB, President General of the English Benedictines. Shortly afterwards, a wing was added to the monastery to house a ‘German College’ to assist in the teaching of languages. Birdsall died in 1837 and is buried in the churchyard at Broadway. Thereafter the monastery and school languished and the monks were eventually dispersed. In 1850 the monastery was purchased by the Passionists, who had been previously based at Woodchester Park. They established a community and novitiate in Broadway, re-dedicating the chapel to St Saviour. Shortly after their arrival the chapel was refronted (Pevsner describes this work as ‘unsubtle’) and refurbished internally with figures by Hardman & Co.; a new school was built in 1851 with a schoolteacher’s house (St Joseph’s Cottage), by Charles Hansom. It is possible that Hansom (who the Passionists would have known from his work at Woodchester, and who enjoyed the favour of Bishop Ullathorne) also provided the design for the west front of the chapel. 

In 1908 a new retreat house was built at right angles to the chapel, replacing the original Benedictine monastery building (Pevsner gives the architects as Curran & Sons of Warrington). In 1900 a new marble high altar was installed and all the interior walls given painted decoration by Brother Mark Kangley (figure 2). A new floor and timber panelling were installed in 1932 (Pevsner says 1935, at which time the murals were overpainted). The church was again redecorated in 1984 and the sanctuary reordered in 1988. In 2000 the Passionists handed the parish over to the Benedictines, who in turn handed it to the Archdiocese. The former monastery and retreat house have now been converted to private flats (‘The Retreat’). 

The chapel is a simple rectangular structure under a single pitched roof, with walls of yellow Cotswold limestone and roof coverings of Welsh slate. There is a stone cross on the west gable and a gabled stone double bellcote on the east gable. The west front is of smooth ashlar masonry with pilaster buttresses to either side breaking through the eaves to form plinths bearing stone statues. The central round-headed doorway has jamb shafts and three orders of neo-Norman decoration.  Above the doorway is a stone plaque with the Passionist emblem and a round-headed niche containing a statue of Christ the Saviour. The ashlar masonry extends for one bay of the south side wall, which has a blocked round-headed window at lower level with a similar but fully-glazed window above. The remainder of the south wall is of roughly squared masonry with three tall round-headed windows. The masonry shows signs of disturbance and there may originally have been four windows. On the north side only two bays are exposed, with round-headed windows. The remainder of the north side and the whole of the east end wall directly abuts the former retreat house.

The interior has plain plaster walls, with no longer any trace of Brother Kangley’s painted decoration, and a flat panelled timber ceiling. At the west end is a timber gallery with a bowed front. On the north side is a small arched side chapel with a blocked round-headed opening beyond it at high level. The sanctuary has oak panelling around the perimeter incorporating stalls, with timber pilaster strips above. All the windows are clear glazed. The marble high altar of 1900 survives but its setting has been considerably changed through redecoration and reordering. The pews probably date from the 1850 reordering. 

Diocese: Birmingham

Architect: Original architect not established; c1850 work possibly by Charles Hansom

Original Date: 1839

Conservation Area: No

Modifications: 1850

Listed Grade: Not listed