Goring-on-Thames - Our Lady and St John

Ferry Lane, Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire RG8

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A small Arts and Crafts Gothic village church built on land donated by William Brown Hallett. Designed by the architect William Ravenscroft of Reading (better known for his Domestic Revival houses), the church was built in two phases, forty years apart, but nevertheless displays an architectural unity. The interior is little altered and retains its original timber high altar. The tower is a local landmark.

The mission at Goring was founded in April 1896 and served until 1904 from Caversham. Mass was initially said in the boathouse belonging to William Brown Hallett. In 1896, Hallett bought a piece of land from Mr Hanley of The Grange, which he donated to the diocese for the purpose of building a church and presbytery. The architect William Ravenscroft was commissioned to prepare plans and on 3 November 1897 Bishop Ilsley blessed the foundation stone. The church was constructed in two halves: the sanctuary and eastern part of the nave were opened in May 1898 by Bishop Ilsley, the western part of the nave was only completed in 1938. Mr and Mrs Hanley donated bricks, the altar, sanctuary furniture and the pulpit.

Unusually, the high altar was not moved forward after the Second Vatican Council. Instead, a temporary altar was set up against the north wall and the pews rearranged to face this. This was recently reversed to restore the original seating arrangement facing the sanctuary. Only the original pulpit has been removed. 

The church is built in red brick laid in English bond, with stone dressings and a tiled roof. The two different halves of the church (built 1897–8 and 1938) use the same materials but the break line is visible in the roof and bricks (photo top left). The plan is longitudinal, with an aisleless nave, narrower chancel, northeast tower, northwest porch and southeast sacristy.

The west elevation has three buttresses below two two-light windows with Perpendicular tracery and brick hood moulds. The gable incorporates a cross in blue bricks and an ashlar band above. The north and south walls each have three windows (of two or three lights each), of which the easternmost has tracery while the two western windows on each side are plain. The south porch has two traceried windows to the west. The chancel has three traceried lancets on each side, while the sacristy has a three-light window without tracery. The east elevation is similar to that at the west, with three buttresses, two two-light traceried windows and an ashlar band in the gable. The foundation stone is at the northeast corner of the chancel. The tower is square in plan with chamfered corners. The two lower stages have oblong windows with brick hoodmoulds to the north. The top stage is octagonal with narrow gabled pilasters between the bell louvres which are topped by glazed quatrefoils. The east gable has a stone cross; the tiled pyramidal roof of the tower a metal cross. The southwest porch has a stone lintel carved with a depressed arch, above which is a small statue of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The interior is divided into four bays by the tie beams of the panelled waggon roof with a coved cornice. The exposed brick walls are of red brick above a dado of blue bricks. The moulded brick chancel arch rests on pairs of short marble columns with stone capitals and corbels. The sanctuary has decorative altar rails of timber and iron, with gilded vine leaves. The timber altar on three steps has a frontal of three quatrefoils in timber tracery and marble panels. The timber reredos has blind tracery panels on either side of the altar and above it empty traceried niches on either side of a monstrance throne. Six gilded panels with small paintings of angels (which came from the boathouse chapel) are attached to finials, with two golden angel figures at the outer ends of the reredos cresting. Beside the chancel arch stands a statue of the Sacred Heart on a ledge with marble columns matching that of the large statue of the Virgin Mary at the west end.

The east windows (c.1897) depict adoring angels and saints, while the west windows (1938) show the (then) recently-canonised St Thomas More and St John Fisher. There is a single stained glass window in the former chapel in the tower depicting St Joseph the Worker, which was installed in 1951 to commemorate the golden jubilee of Fr Sammons, the parish priest.

Diocese: Birmingham

Architect: William Ravenscroft

Original Date: 1898

Conservation Area: Yes

Modifications: 1938

Listed Grade: Not listed