Blundellsands - St Joseph

Warren Road, Blundellsands, Liverpool 23

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Fairly large church in Early English style, on a prominent corner site. Part of the early development of Blundellsands, and built with financial support from the Blundell family of Crosby Hall. The architect A.E. Purdie built widely for the Catholic Church, but this is his only church in Liverpool Archdiocese.

Blundellsands was developed from the 1850s by the Blundells of Crosby Hall, as a wealthy Liverpool suburb. William Blundell was chairman of the Liverpool, Crosby and Southport railway and offered the company land through his estates (including this coastal area of dunes) with a view to developing them. As at Hightown, the area was planned by T. Mellard Reade, assisted by G. W. Goodison.  The Blundells being a Catholic family, a prominent and well-located Catholic church was a priority, and an undated drawing in the archdiocesan archive (above right) shows a large church with a tower and spire on an island site at the centre of the development. The archbishop was petitioned for a new church in 1880, but this was deemed an insufficiently high priority, given the relatively low number of Catholics in the area and the existence of churches at nearby Great and Little Crosby. However, in 1885 Colonel Blundell and his sister Frances gave £1000 towards the building of a new church, designed by A.E. Purdie, which was dedicated on 21 November 1866. The first priest-in-charge was Fr James Nugent, who stayed for one year before going on to pioneering work in child welfare in Liverpool.

 

As so often, the fitting out of the church took place as and when funds permitted. Fr Cahill, the third priest-in-charge, arrived in 1890 and built the adjoining presbytery in the following year. An east window of three lights, showing scenes from the life of St Joseph, was added in 1892, from designs by Hardman & Powell.  The church was only formally opened by Archbishop Whiteside on September 15 1907, at which time the alabaster High Altar was unveiled. In 1910 a new Sacred Heart Altar and Stations of the Cross were added. In 1946, on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee of the church,  two stained glass  windows  were unveiled,  one depicting the 16th   century Crosby martyr Lawrence Johnson and two other priests executed at Tyburn at the same time, and the other the Sacred Heart. More recent glass includes St Teresa (Simon O’Neill c1988) and St Francis (Abbey Glass, Dublin, c1995).

LIST DESCRIPTION:

Roman Catholic church. 1885-6, by AE Purdie. Sandstone rubble, slate roofs. STYLE: Early English.

PLAN: nave, north and south aisles with porch and turret at west end of north aisle, diagonal porch and apsidal chapel at west end of south aisle, 2-bay chancel with north and south aisles.

EXTERIOR: the 5-bay nave has pilaster-buttresses and one quatrefoil clerestory window in each bay; its buttressed west gable has 5 lancets to an internal narthex, a west window of 4 unequal lancet lights, a spherical-triangle in the gable and gable coping with an apex cross. Attached to the north-west corner is a large full-height gabled porch with a tall octagonal bell-turret embraced by its west corner: the porch has a large 2-centred arch with shafts and 4 orders of moulding and a traceried tympanum over a pair doorways, and the turret has staggered lancets (presumably to a spiral staircase), louvred belfry lancets and a slated spire with swept eaves. On the south side an apsidal chapel projects from the 2nd bay of the aisle, and the west angle with this is filled by a diagonal porch which has a doorway in similar but simpler style to that of the north porch, and an embattled parapet. The full-height chancel has a stepped triple-lancet east window.

INTERIOR: aisle arcades of cylindrical columns with moulded caps, and moulded 2- centred arches; arch-braced scissor-truss roof with wind-braced purlins, carried on short wall colonettes with carved caps; 3-bay arcaded west narthex, and gallery over this with brattished coping; tall 2-centred chancel arch with clustered shafts and moulded arch; 2-bay chancel with 2-bay north and south arcades, elaborate carved marble and alabaster reredos.

Diocese: Liverpool

Architect: A.E. Purdie

Original Date: 1885

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II