Bath - Our Lady Help of Christians (St Mary)

Julian Road, Bath, Somerset, BA1

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A high Victorian Gothic Revival design by Dunn & Hansom for an urban site in the north of Bath. The church remained unfinished, notably without the last west bay. The interior is decorated with fine architectural carving by John Roddis of Birmingham and more recent enrichments. In July 2015, the church was damaged by fire; full repair and reinstatement are proposed.

The first mission to the north of Bath was set up at 3 Brunswick Place in 1823. In 1832, a larger chapel of St Augustine was opened at 5 Portland Place. After its sale in 1841 due to insufficient numbers, the mission returned to Brunswick Place. In August 1852, St Mary’s Chapel was established in a former riding school in Montpelier (now the hall of Christchurch Anglican church). In 1870, a marble altar was built for this chapel by Signor Leonardo, a Roman craftsman.

The site for the present church was bought by the diocese in 1877 for £1870, with a house in Harley Street to serve as the presbytery. On 24 June 1879, the foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Errington, who lived in retirement at Prior Park, and on 3 May 1881, the church was opened by Cardinal Manning. The architects were Dunn & Hansom, and the contractor was Joseph Bladwell. The overall cost was £7,000 (including £1,600 for the carvings, by Roddis of Birmingham). The planned final west bay was never built; neither were the school room attached to the Lady Chapel and the clergy house attached to the sacristy. The marble altar from the previous chapel was installed in the Lady Chapel. In 1885, the parish school was built in Harley Street, to the north of the presbytery.

During the so-called Baedeker air raids in April 1942 the church suffered minor damage to the windows and roof. Repairs were carried out in the 1950s under Alec French. The church was redecorated and reordered for the centenary and dedication in 1981 (architect: D.J. McDonagh). This involved moving the altar forward, as well as the removal of choir stalls, pews and the pulpit. In 1985, the niches of the reredos were filled with paintings of saints and martyrs by John Armstrong. In 1997, the artist Fleur Kelly painted five frescoes on framed blank stone panels (intended in 1879 for paintings) on the north side of the nave.

On 26 July 2015, the church was seriously damaged by fire. At the time of writing (October 2015) it is intended that it should re-open ‘as beautiful or more so than it previously was’ (parish website). #

LIST DESCRIPTION:

Name: CHURCH OF ST MARY (ROMAN CATHOLIC) OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS

List entry Number: 1395928

Location: CHURCH OF ST MARY (ROMAN CATHOLIC) OUR LADY HELP OF CHRISTIANS, JULIAN ROAD

Grade: II

Date first listed: 24-Jun-2009

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Oct-2010

 

Details

 

JULIAN ROAD 656-1/0/0 (North side)

 

CHURCH OF ST MARY, Our Lady Help of Christians Roman Catholic Church 24/06/09

 

GV II

 

A Roman Catholic church in a High Victorian Gothic style, built in 1879-81 to a design by AM Dunn and EJ Hansom, with carving by Roddis of Birmingham.

 

MATERIALS: The building is constructed from limestone ashlar with small areas of rubble and a red plain tiled roof.

 

PLAN: Rectangular plan and oriented east-west, with a chancel, south Lady Chapel and north vestry (Lady Chapel and vestry both have external rubble walling), unfinished nave and a south aisle.

 

EXTERIOR: The building comprises a high single-storey with coped verges and single stack at the north side of the vestry. The building is of seven bays, with a break between the nave and chancel. The south elevation fronts the street and shows five bays to the nave and aisle with buttresses in two stages marking the window bays, a porch to the west and the Lady Chapel adjacent to the chapel to the east. There are two-light windows with Decorated tracery of cusped head lights and rose above to the south aisle; above in the clerestory are paired windows, each with two lights, again separated by strip buttresses. The south porch is situated within the western bay of the south elevation and the entry has stiff-leaf capitals, a statue of the Virgin within the gable, and is surmounted by a gable cross. The south Lady Chapel, also with gable crosses, has a small three-light Decorated window in the south wall, and a large decorated window in the east wall of 3 cusped lights with trefoils above. Lighting the chancel are small single-light windows in the south wall, largely hidden behind the chapel roof, and a large east window of three-lights with cusped roundels above. The north side has a vestry with two light lancets and a modern sky-light inserted into the roof. The north nave has plain paired lights within the clerestory and the west wall is rendered and featureless.

 

INTERIOR: The interior has a plain wagon roof to the nave, which was replaced c.1950s following bomb damage in the Second World War, while the chancel roof consists of a decorative bracketed bressumer supporting a panelled ceiling. The five bay nave is separated from the south aisle by clustered columns with stiff-leaf capitals and carved spandrel figures of angels. In comparison the unaisled north wall is plain, with the only decoration consisting of five stone panels which were filled by frescoes in 1997. The chancel contains a reredos, by Signor Leonardo, which was brought from Italy, and comes from a previous chapel.

 

HISTORY: The Catholic parish of St Mary's was established in 1847 with the construction of a chapel, now the hall for the neighbouring Christchurch Anglican Church. The current Church of St Mary was opened on 3 May 1881 by Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster, and was dedicated to Our Lady, Help of Christians. The church also purchased 5 Harley Street for use as the parish rectory. The Church was designed by Dunn and Hansom of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and was built by a local builder, Mr Joseph Bladwell, with carving by Roddis of Birmingham. The original plans indicate that the design was never fully executed: the west end was due to be extended to incorporate extra bays, a school was due to be attached to the south side of the Lady Chapel, and a house due to be added to the north of the sacristy. Although none of these were constructed, rough stonework and the rendered west elevation indicate their intended position. Until World War II, St Mary's was situated adjacent to residential properties with a house directly abutting the west elevation of the church. In the Baedeker raids of April 1942, however, some of the surrounding buildings were destroyed and this resulted in the larger grounds that currently surround the church. Although the church itself survived, the bombs damaged the roof and shattered all of the original stained glass. To celebrate the church's centenary in 1981, a scheme of renovation was undertaken which consisted of the relocation of the high altar and the font and the removal of the pulpit and the pews. As part of this scheme of renovation the Italian marble reredos, by Signor Leonardo, was cleaned and restored. In 1985 the eight panels within the reredos, which formerly contained fabric, were filled with paintings of saints and martyrs by the artist John Armstrong. In 1997 the five stone panels on the north wall were filled by frescoes. These frescoes were painted by a local artist, Fleur Kelly and they depict The Annunciation, The Visitation, The Nativity, The Marriage Feast at Cana and The Deposition from the Cross, all painted incorporating details relevant to the local community.

 

SOURCES Michael Forsyth, Pevsner Architectural Guides - Bath (2003) 242 Neil Jackson, Nineteenth Century Bath: Architects and Architecture, Bath (1991) 149 http://www.stmarysrcbath.com/content/view/25/41/

 

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION The Roman Catholic Church of St Mary Our Lady, Help of Christians is recommended for designation in Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

 

* A good quality church built within a dense urban environment by Dunn and Hansom, a notable pair of ecclesiastical architects of the C19.

* An accomplished design executed using good quality materials and demonstrating a high standard of craftsmanship.

 * The interior carving by Roddis of Birmingham is of particular note.

 

Listing NGR: ST7470265533

 

Rectory

 

Name: ST MARY'S RECTORY

List entry Number: 1396177

Location: ST MARY'S RECTORY, 5 AND 6, HARLEY STREET

Grade: II

Date first listed: 05-Aug-1975

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Oct-2010

 

HARLEY STREET 656-1/0/0 (East side) Nos.5 AND 6 St Mary's Rectory (Formerly Listed as: HARLEY STREET Nos.4-6 (Consec)) 05/08/75

 

GV II

 

Two terrace houses. c1817 with C20 additions.

 

MATERIALS: Limestone ashlar to front and rear, double pile parapeted roofs to left (No.6) and part of No.5, Welsh Slate to front and rear, double pile parapeted roof to right of No.5 has Welsh Slate and double Romans to front roof, rear roof now flat, covering not visible behind parapet, ashlar stacks with some early clay pots to right to front roof of No.5, on front and rear roofs on coped party wall to right of No.6, small ashlar stack with early clay pot on front roof on coped party wall to left of No.6. Staircases to rear.

 

EXTERIOR: Each house has three storeys and basement, two-window range. House to right (No.5) (formerly two) has two six/six-sashes in plain reveals with wrought iron balconettes to first floor, second floor has two eight/eight-sashes in plain reveals with stone sills, ground floor has two six/six-horned sashes in plain reveals with stone sills flanking six-panel door with reeded and fielded panels and single glazed panel in plain reveal with Pennant step, blocked former doorway to right. Slit openings in pavement and plinth below ground floor windows show position of basement openings. Chamfered plinth starting from ground level to left to accommodate steep fall in ground to right, weathered sill course to first floor, moulded eaves cornice not extending to full width of building to left and coped parapet. House to left (No.6) has two six/six-sashes in plain reveals with wrought iron balconettes to first floor, second floor has two six/six-sashes in plain reveals with stone sills, ground floor has to right eight/eight-sash with panes to left and right narrower in plain reveal with stone sill, shallow round headed recessed panel to centre left probably originally intended to contain doorway opening (cf. No.4 Harley Street qv), to far left six-panel door with beaded panels, fielded panels with voided corners and glazed panels in deep plain reveal. Basement has eight/eight-sash in plain reveal with timber lintel, partially above ground. Deep plinth to left of door, plinth to right of door starting just above pavement level to accommodate steep fall of ground to right, weathered sill band to first floor, moulded eaves cornice and coped parapet. To left side unfinished termination of front, rear and side walls and two ashlar chimney breasts with openings for fireplaces to first floor and second floor. Rear elevations retain glazing bar sashes to No.6 and first floor of No.5, other windows C19 and small C20 windows, part of Nos 5 and 6 deeper plan than No.5 to right, small render extension in angle of offset, small ashlar porch with double Romans on lean-to roof against garden wall sheltering six-panel rear door to No.6.

 

INTERIORS: Not inspected.

 

HISTORY: Part of the ground conveyed to Fielder, King, Hewlett and Broom(e) by Sir Peter Rivers Gay on 25 March 1790 on which St James's Square and adjoining streets were built, this plot remained undeveloped until 1817 when Manners' New and Correct Plan of Bath shows houses on sites of Nos 3-6 and Portland Chapel opposite.

 

Listing NGR: ST7466865548

 

4 Harley Street (in parish ownership)

 

List entry Number: 1396174

Location: 4, HARLEY STREET

Grade: II

Date first listed: 11-Aug-1972

Date of most recent amendment: 15-Oct-2010

 

HARLEY STREET 656-1/0/0 (East side) No.4 (Formerly Listed as: HARLEY STREET Nos.4-6 (Consec)) 05/08/75

 

GV II

 

Terrace house. c1817 with late C19 alterations.

 

MATERIALS: Limestone ashlar to front, rubble and render to rear, double pile parapeted roof, Welsh Slate to front and rear, two ashlar stacks on coped party wall to right, to rear with some early clay pots, coped party wall to left. Staircase to rear.

 

EXTERIOR: Four storeys and basement, single-window range. First floor has one two/two-horned sash in plain reveal with stone sill, second floor has one similar sash, third floor has one three/three sash in similar reveal with stone sill and timber lintel to right, six-panel door with reeded and fielded panels with fanlight in round headed plain reveal in shallow round headed recess to left. Basement has two/two-horned sash in plain reveal partially above ground to right. Plinth, band course over ground floor, lintel and moulded cornice over second floor, lintel and coped parapet at eaves. Rear elevation has two/two and four/four-horned sashes, two three/three-sashes to second floor, and small ashlar extension.

 

INTERIOR: Not inspected.

 

HISTORY: Part of the ground conveyed to Fielder, King, Hewlett and Broom(e) by Sir Peter Rivers Gay on 25 March 1790 on which St James's Square and adjoining streets were built, this plot remained undeveloped until 1817 when Manners' New and Correct Plan of Bath shows houses on sites of Nos 3-6 and Portland Chapel opposite.

 

Listing NGR: ST7466665537

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: A. M. Dunn & E. J. Hansom

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II