Paignton - Sacred Heart

Cecil Road, Paignton, Devon

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A large and handsome inter-war church in the Basilican Romanesque style by Wilfrid Mangan, a well-known and prolific Catholic architect.  A re-ordering of the east end has not diminished the quality of the interior.

The present church replaces an earlier building at Colley End in Paignton dedicated to the Sacred Heart.  Fr Conran, who was the parish priest from 1926 to 1932, solicited public donations towards the building of a new church, which was to be additionally dedicated to St Teresa, the Little Flower of Lisieux, who had been canonised in 1925. The new site was acquired for £2,400.  The builders were Melhuish & Berry of Paignton and the architect Wilfrid Mangan of Preston andLondon. The new church was opened on 26 July 1931. The church was originally attached to a monastery and the wide sanctuary intended for singing the offices, but the direct connection between monastery and parish ended in 1938.  The church interior was reordered in 1989 by the architects Purcell, Miller and Tritton. The original marble floor was covered with carpet and most of the furniture was renewed, with the exception of the stone font which was placed on the sanctuary steps. 

The church is a brick-built Romanesque basilica. The plan comprises an aisled nave with a tall south west campanile, shallow transeptal projections at the east end of the nave and a five-sided apse.  The facings are a random mixture of red and blue bricks laid in Flemish bond, the roof coverings are red Roman tiles. The tall west end wall with its open pediment has a triple-arched loggia at ground floor level with a gable over the central arch.  Mosaics of Our Lady, the Sacred Heart and St Teresa over the entrance. Above is a tall round-headed window opening rising into the pediment and flanked by pairs of smaller windows of similar form.  The side walls have low lean-to aisles; both aisles and the clerestory above have narrow round headed-windows.

 

The south west campanile is nobly proportioned. The two lower stages are almost windowless and rise above eaves level.  The slightly diminishing three upper stages have two, three and three arched openings respectively on each face.  The arches are carried on simple stone columns with bell capitals.  The two upper stages are further embellished with brick corbel tables. The east end of the building with its tall shallow transepts and almost windowless apse is almost an anticlimax.

 

The interior is both austere and Italianate with plain plastered walls and a parquet floor.  Low eight-bay arcades of round-headed brick arches on brick piers divide the narrow side aisles from  the tall nave with its simple clerestorey and open timber roof whose principal trusses have tie-beams, king-posts and raking struts. At the western end of the nave is a gallery over the front loggia.  At the eastern end the nave arcades terminate in the tall narrow transept openings and beyond them a tall round-headed arches gives into the apsidal sanctuary. The sanctuary was been re-ordered in 1989 with modern furniture.  The nave benches are original.

Diocese: Plymouth

Architect: Wilfred Mangan, erection supervised by J. E. Walker

Original Date: 1931

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed