Lavington - St Joseph

Cheverell Road, Littleton Pannell, Lavington, Wiltshire SN10

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The church was built as a Wesleyan Methodist memorial chapel in 1900 in the free Gothic style popular for chapels at that time. It was adapted to serve as a Catholic church in 1971. The original patrons were the Holloway brothers, directors of a leading London building firm. The church is of some interest both for its architecture and its associations, and makes a positive contribution to the local conservation area.

In 1932 a Mass centre was opened in the house of Mr and Mrs Joseph Sainsbury at West Lavington, served from Devizes. Shortly after the war an ex-army hut was erected in the grounds of the Sainsburys’ house for use as a chapel and an old sports pavilion in the village was also used for worship. In 1967 the parish purchased the former Wesleyan Methodist chapel in Littleton Pannell for £5,000. This had been built in 1900 by Thomas and Henry Holloway, directors of the well-known London building firm of Holloway Bros, as a memorial to their father, who came from West Lavington. Both brothers also bought estates in the district. The chapel closed in the late 1960s. After repair and refurbishment it was reopened as a Catholic church in 1971. The refurbishment involved some internal rearrangement; the altar was placed across the former main entrance, which was bricked up, and the seating was reversed. The church continues to be served from Devizes.

The church is not oriented; the liturgical east end faces southwest. This is a modest building in the free Gothic manner typical of the years around 1900, occupying a site which slopes up from the road. On plan it is a simple rectangle, with a hall at the rear set at right angles. The external walls of the church are faced with red brick laid in Flemish bond, with windows and dressings of Bath stone. The pitched roofs are covered in tiles. The broad west end facing the road has a broad pointed window with elaborately cusped tracery, above the former entrance doorway (now blocked) which is flanked by two small windows. Both side walls have three-light windows with curved heads. The west end abuts the hall at the rear.

 

The interior is a single space, with plain plastered walls and a handsome timber roof with hammerbeams on curved brackets. The windows have tinted glass. Originally the chapel was entered from the road end with the reader’s desk at the inner end next to the hall. In the 1970 refurbishment this arrangement was reversed. The original entrance door was blocked, the altar set across it and the seating raked up to a new entrance door from the hall at the rear. The fittings include an octagonal stone font brought from Chitterne.

Diocese: Clifton

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1900

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not listed