Sandown - St Patrick

Beachfield Road, Sandown, Isle of Wight

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Church by W.C. Mangan, unusual in being closely modelled on the important Irish Arts & Crafts chapel at Honan, Cork. It is not an exact copy, is executed with lavishness and great attention to detail and is a valuable work of art in its own right. High quality stained glass by the studio of one of the most important Irish stained glass artists of the twentieth century.

In the mid-nineteenth century there were always large numbers of soldiers garrisoned at the Granite Fort, many of whom were Catholics and it became a regular occurrence for Mass to be said there. In 1907 Father de Mainvilliers became Sandown’s first resident priest, saying Mass at Albert Lodge Chapel. In 1914 Father Flynn proposed the building of a permanent church. Delayed by war and fundraising, the foundation stone was not laid until May 1928 and St Patrick’s was opened on 25 June 1929. The architect was W.C. Mangan of Preston, and the Romanesque design was closely modelled on the Honan Church at Cork (1916 by James McMullen, a major work of the Irish Arts & Crafts movement, inspired by the nationalist taste for Irish architecture and design of the Romanesque period). The dedication and architectural style may well have been influenced by the bishop at the time, William Cotter; he was a native of County Cork and would doubtless have been familiar with McMullen’s church.

St Patrick’s consists of a long nave and sanctuary raised over a deep undercroft hall, unbroken externally, with shallow unequal transeptal projections (much larger on the north side), tripartite west porch and slender cylindrical tower projecting at the southwest corner. Following the early Romanesque style, the windows are narrow and tall and the walls unrelieved except by flat buttresses linked by an arched corbel table. Steeply pitched roof with Celtic crosses on the gables. The entrance has shafts and mouldings of three orders and elaborately carved cushion capitals.

The interior is undivided and tunnel vaulted with transverse arches. A decorative arched corbel table links the heads of the windows. The sanctuary arch and sanctuary are richly decorated with carving, mostly nailhead and dogtooth but with some more Celtic forms, a vocabulary picked up in the altar, font and ambo. An immensely tall arch breaking into the tunnel vault opens into the shallow south chapel and a similar two arches open into a north chapel with a lower arch on its east wall opening into the chapel sanctuary. Original altars in both chapels. The west wall of the nave has a five-bay arcade, the larger central arch opening to the porch. Two smaller arches on the right for the confessional and two open arches to the left. Even the built in stoups have little Romanesque arches. The pews are plain with open backs. Excellent stained glass throughout the church by the Harry Clarke Studios of Dublin. The proportions of the windows lend themselves to the long sinuous figures familiar in the work of Clarke and his studio, combining ‘Byzantine dignity with Beardsley-esque decadence’. The windows have an intense jewel-like quality which remain in the minds eye long after leaving the building.

Diocese: Portsmouth

Architect: Wilfrid Mangan

Original Date: 1928

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed