Dartmouth - St John the Baptist

20 Newcomen Road, Dartmouth, Devon

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Modest Gothic Revival town centre church by J.A. Hansom, with gabled west front giving straight onto the street. There are some internal furnishings of note, including two ornate stone reredoses, but the primary importance of the church perhaps lies in the contribution it makes to the conservation area. In the words of the list description, the church and presbytery ‘add variety to an attractive street of predominantly 19th century architecture’.

A mission was founded in Lower StreetDartmouthin 1782 and lasted until after the Napoleonic War, but was closed by 1821.  Some time later a catholic convert, the Rev Lord Henry Kerr, donated £1,000 for building the present church, designed by the prolific J. A. Hansom and opened by Bishop Vaughan in 1869.  An adjoining presbytery was built at the same time, incorporating some of the fabric of an earlier building (17th century almshouses). The chancel was added in 1873-76.Dartmouth parish is now served from Brixham. 

LIST DESCRIPTION:

Roman Catholic church. Nave 1868-9, chancel 1873-6 byJA Hansom, architect. Local limestone rubble laid to rough courses,Bathstone dressings (some replaced with concrete in the late C20); slate roof.

 

PLAN: Church was built with No.20 (qv), the priest's house, with a linking block making an overall U-plan. Nave is end onto the street with apsidal western chancel. Gallery at street end. Doorway into right (north) side from the link block which runs along the street.

 

EXTERIOR: Minimal early Decorated style. Tall gable end on chamfered plinth to street. 2-window front. Paired trefoil-headed lancets to the lower level, taller lancets above and roundel above them, all with tracery based on trefoils. Image niche between the upper lancets with Gothic canopy and pinnacles. Bath stone quoins and bands at window sill and arch level although most replaced with concrete. Front of the link block to right in same style. Doorway a 2-centred arch with hoodmould containing plank door with Gothic-style ferramenta. Small lancet above lighting the steps inside and presumably secondary gabled dormer above that. Chancel has 2 arched, almost triangular-headed, windows with tracery making 3 quatrefoils.

 

INTERIOR: Door into nave similar to external one. Nave has plastered walls, floor of C20 plastic tiles and 4-bay roof of open scissor-braced trusses. Tall chancel arch springing from slender columns standing on corbels, and similar columns to the ribbed roof of the chancel. Trefoil-headed arch to piscina. Stone altar with blind Gothic arcade to marble panels. Ornate Gothic-style reredos with carved figures in niches either side of taller central niche with tall canopy for the cross. Another similar, but less ornate, reredos against south wall behind a plainer stone altar. C20 communion rail. Plain joinery to the gallery and benches. This modest church adds variety to an attractive street of predominantly C19 architecture. 

Diocese: Plymouth

Original Date: 1869

Conservation Area: Yes

Modifications: 1873-76

Listed Grade: Grade II