Malvern - St Joseph

Newtown Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14

title= title= title= title=

A modest Gothic design of the 1870s, considerably enlarged in the 1990s. Something of the original character of the interior has been preserved, with the original west gallery and reredos, but the finishes and many of the furnishings are modern. There is some good stained glass by Hardman and others.

The Benedictine association with Malvern goes back to the eleventh century, when under Bishop Wulstan, Aldwin, a monk from Worcester, began work on the priory.

Great Malvern’s popularity as a spa greatly increased after the arrival of the railway in 1859. In 1871 a Catholic priest named Fr McCluskey, one of a party of American tourists, obtained permission to say Mass in a private house named Aldwyn Towers. Here a mission was later established by the Benedictines from Downside under Fr
H. B. Bulbeck OSB. A site for a new church was given by John Hornyold of Blackmore Park, and the present building, designed by T. R. Donnelly of Coventry, was opened by Bishop Ullathorne in October 1876. It was a simple Gothic structure, with an aisleless nave and sanctuary under one roof and a small presbytery to one side. The Empress Eugenie is reported to have pronounced it ‘the most devotional church she ever prayed in’ (Donnelly obituary, The Tablet, 4 July 1908). 

 In 1891 the Benedictines from Douai, Northern France, escaping anti-clerical legislation, acquired Conellan College in Great Malvern (a former hydropathic establishment) with a view to transferring their whole monastery establishment. They also took over the care of St Joseph’s parish. In 1904-5 a church dedicated to Our Lady and St Edmund, designed by Peter Paul Pugin (who died before the church opened; the work was overseen by Sebastian Pugin-Powell) was built to serve the monastic community, to which St Joseph’s would serve as a chapel of ease. In the event, the main Douai community established itself at Woolhampton in Berkshire, and in 1918 the community moved there, whereupon Conellan College was sold to Malvern College. St Joseph’s became the parish church, with St Edmund’s a chapel of ease. The parish continued to be served by Benedictines from Douai until 1996, when it came under diocesan control. At this time Our Ladyand St Edmund was sold to Malvern College. In 1997 St Joseph’s was enlarged by the addition of aisles and a western narthex and parish room (architect John D. Holmes of Leamington Spa). The enlarged church was opened in June 1998.

Diocese: Birmingham

Architect: T. R. Donnelly; John D. Holmes

Original Date: 1876

Conservation Area: No

Modifications: 1997-8

Listed Grade: Not listed