Woodhall Spa - Our Lady and St Peter

Cromwell Avenue, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire

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An attractive but architecturally unexceptional late Victorian church, originally intended as a dual purpose school and chapel. It was badly damaged in World War Two but was subsequently restored and has good recent additions.

Woodhall Spa, though founded circa 1838, flourished only in the last decade of the 19th   century  and  the  first  decade  of  the  20th   century.  The  London  architect,  R. Adolphus Came laid out a planned development in 1887 and subsequently settled in the town, designing many of its buildings, including the Catholic church. In 1895 Fr Peter Sabela from Grantham opened a Mass centre at Woodhall Spa and in the same year land off Cromwell Avenue was purchased and Thomas Young of Kingerby Hall, near Market Rasen, provided most of the funds to build a church. Came’s original drawings remain in the Diocesan archives. They show that the building was intended as a ‘chapel or school room’ but there is no evidence that it was ever used for the latter purpose. The sanctuary was never built and the drawings show entrance by a north porch, also never built, entry always being from the west. A bomb landed near the church in 1943. The damage was so extensive that repair was at first considered impracticable. Extensions and alterations were made in 2000 and 2007 

The altar faces northeast but for the purposes of this description all references to compass points will assume an eastward facing altar. Built of red brick with stone dressings and bands of stone under a Welsh slate roof. The church has mullioned and transomed windows of secular character, perhaps indicative of the original dual use proposal. Buttresses divide the nave into six bays on the south side but there is only one buttress on the north side. A curious feature is that the southwest angle buttress originally  had  a  tall,  corbelled  out,  stone  bell  turret  with  tall  spirelet.  Another undated old photograph in the centenary booklet shows a similar turret on the northeast buttress but not on the southwest one. Today the northeast buttress has a much more modest brick bell turret with a pyramidal roof. A pointed arch in the east wall shows the intended sanctuary which was never built. At the west end a porch or narthex was built in 2007 to designs by Neil Dowlman of Alford, a large and appropriate structure of brick with tall gabled buttresses and large glazed areas. The original west doorway, with tympanum carved with St Peter’s crest, remains within. Attached  at  the  southeast  corner  is  a  two  storey  brick  building  (containing  the sacristy and a room above) probably built not long after the church, and attached to the east of this is a hall built in 2000 to design by Neil Dowlman. It follows the spirit of the late Victorian building and is less architecturally interesting than his west narthex.

The interior is simple with scissor braced roof trusses, ceiled only at the top. A stilted pointed arch opens into the small sanctuary and a pointed arch frames the altar against  the  rear  wall.  Interestingly  this  second  arch  is  not  visible  in  an  old photograph reproduced in the centenary booklet, though this may simply be that the wall was painted in a single colour and the arch not therefore visible from a distance. The altar, with marble colonnettes, is the remnant of the original altar and reredos by Boulton & Sons of Cheltenham. The same photograph mentioned above shows wall paintings over the sanctuary arch. These have either been lost or painted over. Surprisingly the pews appear to be original, despite the bomb damage. A table in the sanctuary  appears  to  have  been  made  from  inverted  marble  columns  from  th reredos. Above the altar hangs a painted crucifix, a replica of the San Damiano cross which hangs in the Basilica of Saint Clare, in Assisi.

Diocese: Nottingham

Architect: : R. Adolphus Came of London for the original work, Neil Dowlman recent work

Original Date: 1896

Conservation Area: No

Modifications: 2007

Listed Grade: Not listed