Gorey, Jersey - Church of the Assumption

Main Road, Gorey Village, Gorey, Jersey, Channel Islands

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Small chapel built for the Bible Christian Methodists, which became a cinema before being acquired by the Catholic Church in 1953. Its architectural qualities have been marred by the cinema addition at the west end and by the replacement of the windows in PVCu, but the building is nevertheless of local architectural, historical and townscape interest. 

Gorey is a small fishing village on the east side of the Island, dominated by the great medieval fortress of Mont Orgeuil, which sits on its rocky outcrop facing defiantly towards France. A local shipbuilding centre, the village economy grew spectacularly from about 1810 on the proceeds of oyster fishing, although the industry quickly declined after about 1870 due to over fishing. During that period of growth there was a large influx of oyster fishers from Devon and Cornwall, for whom a number of chapels were built. One of these, the present building, was built in 1864 for the Bible Christian Methodists, an offshoot of Wesleyanism founded in 1815, and particularly strong in Cornwall. The chapel continued in use for some time after the decline of oyster fishing, but closed in 1916, after which it became a cinema. A new projection room was added at the west end, with a large opening made for the projector in the original west wall, and a raking floor was installed.

Catholic presence in Gorey was established in 1903, with the building of a temporary church. The first permanent church was built in 1909 (now the Village Bistro). This proved to be too small, and in 1953 the present building was acquired and dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption (three years after the formal promulgation of that dogma by Pope Pius XII). It was opened on 20 December 1953, the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the first temporary chapel, and was solemnly blessed by Bishop King on 26 September 1954.    

The original building consists of a single cell of three bays. It is of random rubble construction, the side walls rendered and lined to resemble ashlar blocks. Eaves gutter and slate roof. Three round arched windows to the side elevations, replaced in PVCu. The northeast window has been truncated to allow the formation of a door to a flat roofed addition which is now the sacristy. At the west end, a two storey addition, rendered with a parapet concealing a flat roof, modern windows; this was built to house the projection room when the chapel was converted to a cinema.

The church is entered through the twentieth century addition, where there is a stair to the former projection room. Beyond this the original internal volume of the chapel survives, with a shallow segmental vaulted plaster ceiling over a moulded cornice. Perimeter dado rail. There is a large opening in the west wall, formed for the cinema projector. Also associated with that use is the raking floor of the interior.

There are no furnishings of particular interest; the seating is plain nineteenth century benches. In the east wall is an arched recess housing a statue of Our Lady of the Assumption – a timber gabled projection on the outside wall was built to accommodate this. The recess is flanked by two large landscape paintings by Mollie Parker, 1989.

Diocese: Portsmouth

Architect: Unknown

Original Date: 1964

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed