Liskeard - Our Lady and St Neot

West Street, Liskeard, Cornwall

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The church is of historic interest as an early post-Emancipation chapel of 1830. It was greatly enlarged in the 1860s by Joseph Hansom primarily to accommodate an influx of Irish miners to the Liskeard area. The church was cheaply built and has been somewhat altered, but contains some distinctive furnishings of the 1880s, including a large stained glass window by Mayer of Munich. 

The original church was built in 1830, the first to be built inCornwallafter the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829.  The establishing of the mission at Liskeard followed the conversion of Sir Harry Trelawny of Trelawne, whose French chaplain, Fr Marc Oléron, purchased a house in Redcow Lane (now West Street) in 1830 and built a small chapel (the present hall). After the departure of Fr Oléron Liskeard was served by visiting priests until the establishment of the Franciscan community at Sclerder (q.v.), after which the first church was served by the friars. 

 

The later influx of Irish miners to the area meant that a larger church was needed and in 1863 the church was greatly enlarged, from designs by Joseph Hansom. The first regular parish priest was Fr George Poole of Torquay. In the 1880s during the incumbency of Fr Graham a new granite altar and font were installed. In 1888 a new stained glass window by Mayer of Munich was installed on the Gospel (south) side in memory of Joseph Kaupp, local jeweller and benefactor of the church. In 1889 Fr Graham installed further windows in memory of his parents, and also fixed to the underside of the organ gallery a vestibule screen from the old parish church in Liskeard, and roofed over the baptistery area (Bishop’s notes in Diocesan archive).   

 

At some point in the 20thcentury (probably in the interwar years, but the date has not been established), the chancel was extended, and a presbytery built to the (ritual) east of the church, the latter replacing an earlier presbytery which had been built up against the original east wall of the church. 

Bishop Cyril Restieaux consecrated the church, together with its new granite altar, on 17 September 1983. The church now forms part of Saltash parish. 

The church is orientated north-south, but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar were facing east.

 

The church was built in three phases. The first consisted of a small chapel (now the parish hall and overflow seating area), a simple rubble stone structure with a steeply pitched slate roof, plain lancet windows with brick surrounds, and a trefoil in the gable on the west front. Adjoining this is Hansom’s church of 1863, built in similar materials and with the architect’s usual arrangement of paired west windows and a trefoil (here supplemented by a niche) in the gable, which is surmounted by a cross. There is a gabled projecting entrance on the south side at the west end with a Bathstone surround and granite hoodmould with carved stops. There is a further gable in the third bay of the nave over a large stained glass window. The third phase is represented by the chancel, a 20th century addition in coursed grey granite blocks (also used for the presbytery beyond) with three narrow lancet windows on each side. The roofs are all of slate.

 

The southwest entrance leads into a narthex area under the organ gallery. This is separated from the nave by a richly carved timber screen, from the Anglican parish church in Liskeard and introduced here in 1889 by Fr Graham. Beside the stair to the gallery stained glass (bearing the date 1889) dimly lights a small timber vaulted enclosure, the former baptistery.  The main space of the nave consists of a single volume under a simple scissor braced roof. The sanctuary is separated from the nave by a broad pointed arch, formed in c1930 when the sanctuary was added. The original church to the north is separated from the nave by two arches, now blocked with opening partitions which allow for overspill seating. The interior of the old chapel is plain, with a canted plaster ceiling and no historic furnishings. The sacristy and a small kitchen lie to its east.

 

Furnishings include plain pine pews, early or original, and a polished granite font with a grey bowl and red stem dating from 1882 and now located at the east end of the nave before the sanctuary. The sanctuary furnishings are modern; the altar is of grey granite and dates from c1983. The other major furnishing is the stained glass window to Francis Joseph Kaupp and his wife Bridget, depicting St Francis andSt Joseph, by Mayer of Munich, dated 1886.   

Diocese: Plymouth

Architect: J.A. Hansom (1863 work)

Original Date: 1830

Conservation Area: Yes

Modifications: 1863

Listed Grade: Not listed