Totland Bay - St Saviour

Weston Lane, Totland Bay, Isle of Wight

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Church designed by the Preston-based architect, Wilfrid C. Mangan, who worked extensively in Portsmouth diocese. In this case he was working with his father James. W. C. Mangan was an enthusiast for round-arched styles which were highly popular for Catholic churches between the wars. Other such work by him in the diocese is to be found at St Joseph, Romsey (1913), the convent church of the Sacred Heart, Waterlooville (1922-5), English Martyrs Reading (1926), and St Joseph, Newbury (1926-8). Their output varies in style and quality. St Saviour’s, Totland Bay, is a work of considerable originality in its detailing and its Italian Romanesque style is most attractive and unexpected in this context.

Mary Ward and her husband built Weston Manor in 1869-70 (designed by Catholic architect George Goldie) with a private Catholic chapel. Her ambition was to build a Catholic church at Totland but it was her son who died in 1915 and made this a reality by leaving £5,000 for this purpose. The church was eventually built in 1923 to designs by the well known Catholic Church architects Mangan & Mangan of Preston.

n style the church is like an Early Christian basilica or Italian Romanesque church. Bright red brick, the main body of the church a rectangle with shallow-pitched and deeply overhanging tiled roof. Much lower lean-to aisles, screened at each end by raised walls elegantly curved. East view of polygonal apse and projecting side chapels, all with shallow roofs and deep eaves. The west front has a colonnaded narthex (now enclosed with glazing) and the distinctive vertical feature of the northwest tower with exaggeratedly projecting eaves. A polygonal baptistery (now Martyrs Chapel) projects from the west face of the tower. Striking brickwork patterns. Round arches throughout. Arched-corbel tables and other decorative brick projections. ‘Perhaps the form was based on that of a Romanesque basilica, but with overtones of Art Deco and strident individualism’ (Pevsner & Lloyd).

The interior is spacious and largely of red brick with decorative use of blue brick. West gallery. Arcades with segmental arches on square pillars, with herringbone patterns in the spandrels and paired clerestory windows above. The sanctuary arch is broad and the sanctuary internally is half-domed and semi-circular, plastered and painted white in contrast to the red brick. The half-dome is pierced by three small windows. The narrow passage aisles have transverse brick arches and the nave is roofed with robust utilitarian trusses with diagonal bracing. 

The furnishings of the church are generally plain. Open wooden pews. The font (repositioned in the 1990s) has a deep octagonal bowl with carved Gothic panels on a base of clustered polished shafts. It looks earlier than the church and may have been brought from elsewhere. In the Martyrs Chapel a painted triptych of 1983 by Lyn Cottrall, together with paintings of St John Fisher and St Thomas More. The sanctuary was re-ordered in 1973 by C.A.F. Sheppard; the furnishings are not of aesthetic note. The organ is placed on the west gallery and may have been installed in the 1950s but dates from the late-nineteenth century, by Bryceson Brothers of London. It has no case. Stained glass, not of particular merit, mostly at the east end and mostly figures of saints. Some windows signed by Barrowclough & Sanders of London.

Diocese: Portsmouth

Architect: James C Mangan & Wilfred C Mangan of Preston

Original Date: 1923

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed