Great Haywood - St John the Baptist

Main Road, Great Haywood, Staffordshire ST18

title= title= title= title= title=

A country house chapel of the 1820s which was rebuilt in its current location in the 1840s, and as such has been described as ‘a striking example of physical continuity between country house Catholicism and a nineteenth century parish’. The church is of considerable historical and architectural interest, displaying an exceptional grasp of Perpendicular style for the period and representing an important work by the architect Joseph Ireland, several of whose other buildings have been demolished. 

The chapel originated as the family chapel at Tixall Hall, which was originally built for the Aston family. A fine sixteenth century gatehouse survives, but the remainder of the building, which had been altered and augmented, was demolished. The chapel was built for Sir Thomas Clifford Constable in 1827-8 by Joseph Ireland, who had earlier restored the house. The style is in marked contrast to Ireland’s classical churches at Walsall and Wolverhampton (qqv), and was probably chosen to chime with the character of the gatehouse. Archive views show that the chapel originally had a highly ornate apse in the form of a compass or bay window, possibly original sixteenth century fabric re-used, possibly identifiable with remains sited opposite the presbytery to the south of the present chapel, which have recently been restored. The chapel was used by the local Catholic population as well as the family, and when the family left Tixall they made provision for the dismantling and re-erection of the chapel, which took place in 1845. This was, as Hodgetts says, ‘a striking example of physical continuity between country house Catholicism and a nineteenth century parish’. The building was dedicated in October 1846, with Bishop Wiseman officiating.   

In 1979-80 the building was restored and cleaned by Horsley, Currall & Associates, who created a forward altar using the original high altar, with changes to the floor level and other alterations.

The list entry (below) is very brief and makes no mention of Joseph Ireland.

The chapel was originally located at Tixall Hall, and was built in 1827-8 for Sir Thomas Clifford Constable from designs by Joseph Ireland. It was dismantled and rebuilt in a different form at its present location in 1845, after the Tixall estate went into Protestant ownership.

In this description, all orientations given are liturgical. On plan the chapel consists of a stone rectangle with slender octagonal southwest turret and a tall porch at the west end. This has a canopied niche over the Tudor-arched doorway and shallow flanking niches with traceried heads. The building is crenellated and has large mullioned-and-transomed windows with arched traceried lights beneath flat heads. The chapel is attached to a red brick presbytery, probably of 1840s date, via a short stone link.

Inside, the roof of the porch has been replaced at some point. A Tudor style entrance leads beneath the west gallery, which has an elaborate arcaded screen. The walls of the chapel are decorated to dado height with blind traceried panels. Some masonry   displays graffiti said to have been made by masons as an aid to reconstruction of the building. There is a wall pulpit with entrance from the presbytery link, a Tudor style doorway to the link and a canopied sedile. The turret contains a stone spiral stair, and levels of stair and gallery are mismatched. There is a forward altar, made from the original high altar repositioned in 1979-80. Stations of the Cross take the form of relief carvings, installed in the early twentieth century in memory of Fr Butland, who died in 1917 and is buried in the churchyard. A stained glass window on the north side of the nave commemorates George Hill, who died in 1917 and was an artist at the Hardman studios in Birmingham; he executed the window. A large bronze statue of the Virgin and Child by Carmel Cauchi is of c.1980 and stands at the rear of the building beneath the west gallery.


List entry Number: 1243374

Grade: II

Date first listed: 17-Oct-1995




603-0/19/10026 Churchyard Cottage GV II


Cottage. Early-mid C19. Red brick. Clay plain tile roof with gabled ends and brick dentil eaves. Brick axial and gable-end stacks.


PLAN: 2-room plan, with parlour on right and kitchen on left heated from central axial stack forming entrance lobby; pantry and winder stairs behind kitchen.


EXTERIOR: 2 storeys. 2-window south west front. C19 2-light wooden windows with iron casements with glazing bars; doorway at centre with plank door with cover-moulds; ground floor openings have cambered arches, ground floor left blind. Similar casement on left [north west] end. Later C19 outshut right end. Rear wall is blind except for small pantry window on ground floor.


INTERIOR: C19 joinery intact. Kitchen fireplace has brick arch and iron range. Forms a group with the Church of St John the Baptist (qv).


Listing NGR: SJ9980922769

Diocese: Birmingham

Architect: Joseph Ireland

Original Date: 1828

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II