Wolverhampton - St Joseph

The Island, Willenhall Road, Wolverhampton WV1

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One of Jennings, Homer & Lynch’s more notable church designs in the diocese, with a fan-shaped plan designed to accommodate the needs of the post-Vatican II liturgy. Outwardly this is a fairly conventional piece of 1960s church design, but the internal space is particularly impressive and spacious, rising under a timber ceiling to the sanctuary. The church is little altered and retains some notable furnishings. 

In 1868 a piece of ground in East Street was purchased by Mr John Hawksford for St Joseph’s School which opened in November that year. On 8 September 1903 a new mission church – a temporary iron building – was opened in Walsall Street. Plans for a new church were instigated in 1963 and the foundation stone was laid in 1966. It was blessed by Archbishop Dwyer on 4 December 1967. The architect was Joseph R. Chavasse of Jennings, Homer & Lynch of Brierley Hill, the builders Amies Bros of Poutney Street, Wolverhampton. The church was consecrated on 17 May 1984. 

The church is of steel frame construction and attractively faced with bricks of different hues – chiefly dull red in various shades, but also some in purple and cream. The main roof is a copper-covered, irregularly-shaped pyramid out of which rises a fleche, 100 feet high and also copper-clad. The main body of the church is laid out to a five-sided, fan-shaped plan. The entrance is at the junction of two of these sides and faces the sanctuary which is situated against the shortest side. Each of the four long sides has large windows of tall rectangular panels. A Lady Chapel (south), Sacred Heart Chapel (north), and a sacristy (between them) wrap around the east end. The entrance narthex leads to a repository on the north.

The main volume of the interior is a spacious single volume rising up continuously to the east end, which appears to be about twice the height of opposite end. It is faced with bare beige bricks (described as ‘silver grey’ in the Catholic Building Review) and has a boarded ceiling of cedar and Parana pine. Considerable use is made of Connemara marble for the altars, sanctuary rails, Stations of the Cross, and vertical panels in the east wall depicting the Seven Sacraments. The floors are of terrazzo, marble and, under the benches, woodblocks. The windows have large, bold stained glass figures of saints by the Hardman firm. There are also hand-carved plate glass panels at the entrance depicting the Mysteries of the Rosary by Gerry Powell of Wellington, Shropshire.

Diocese: Birmingham

Architect: Jennings, Homer & Lynch

Original Date: 1967

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed