Shrewsbury - St Winefride

Crowmere Road, Monkmoor, Shrewsbury, SY2

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A fairly late church by F. X. Velarde, with many design characteristics and details typical of that interesting and significant post-war architect. The exterior is plain, save for the square campanile with arched belfry openings and the bluff apsidal east end. The interior is marked by a succession of low-brick arches, and an intact original paint scheme on the ceilings. Velarde-designed fittings include the altar and crucifix.

St Winefride was built in 1956 for the new Monkmoor parish. It was built from designs by F. X. Velarde, who also designed the very similar, later church of Our Lady of Pity, Harlescott (qv). Monkmoor is a very small parish: the Catholic population in 1956 was around 400, reducing to 160 in the mid-1980s, and now stands at around 320. The church is served from the Cathedral.

The church is longitudinal on plan, consisting of an aisleless nave with apsidal sanctuary and separate, linked campanile. The design is very similar to that for Our Lady of Pity, Harlescott (qv), also by Velarde, which opened five years later. In many ways both churches are smaller versions of Velarde’s St Teresa, Up Holland (1955-57; grade II listed). St Winefride is orientated with the sanctuary to the west, but for this description this will be referred to as the liturgical east end.

The building is faced in buff bricks in stretcher bond, with cast-concrete angel figures to the window millions, and a shallow-pitched concrete tiled roof. At the west end is a pitched-roof narthex with two paired round-headed windows. The entrance on the south side is approached  via a set of stone steps  and has  a cusped head  with  a sandstone relief of fleur de lys, and retains its original double entrance doors with brass furniture. The south elevation, facing the road, is five bays long, with a narthex to the west and chancel bay to the east. Each bay has paired round-headed windows between substantial brick buttresses, and a further single round-headed window above. Each window pair has a cast-concrete mullion depicting alternately an angel figure and doves; a typical Velarde detail seen on several of his churches around this time. A square-plan campanile tower is attached on the south side of the church, towards the east end. Faced with buff brick with circular steel-framed windows in blue and obscured glass at the base, it has a stone-faced bellcote with a large arched opening on each face, and a pyramidal copper roof surmounted with a bronze cross, similar to that at Up Holland. The tower can be accessed on the southwest side via original double doors, and today also has ramped access. In the corresponding position on the north side is a sacristy with a hipped-roof linking to the former presbytery (now a private residence). The chancel is apsidal and blind at the east end, with large twelve-pane windows - alternately round and square-headed with blue and obscure glass set in reconstituted stone surrounds - on the flat north and south walls.

Inside, the nave walls are faced with fair-faced buff bricks and large round arches springing almost from the ground, defining the bays. The arch to the narthex bay is smaller  and  lower.  The  windows  have  cast-concrete  mullions  with  depictions  of angels and doves; each pair comprises metal-framed round-headed windows with attractive  clear  and  turquoise  glass.  Double-rolled  Cathedral  glass  was  used  by Velarde at St Cuthbert, Mouldsworth (1955), which is the same style. Round-headed openings with original panelled timber doors lead to the campanile and baptistery to the south, and sacristy and confessional to the north. The narthex has two pairs of round-headed windows on the west wall. The floor is laid with linoleum squares with coloured geometric designs  to  the  nave  aisle,  with  modern carpet  to  part  of  the chancel. The boarded ceilings retains their original paint scheme, of geometric diamonds in blue and gold in the nave, a striking blue and gold design in the sanctuary, and a simple panelled blue design with gilt crosses in the narthex. The attached presbytery is contemporary with the church, and retains its original metal windows.

The sanctuary walls are plastered and plain painted. There is a stone altar with a gilt relief design, almost certainly of Velarde’s design (there are comparable altars at Mouldsworth and Birkenhead, Holy Cross), set on a dais in turn stepped up from the nave. The original tiled terrazzo floor survives, although the altar rails have been removed. There is a simple timber ambo and further timber furnishings, some of which may be contemporary. A crucifix to a typical Velarde design is mounted on the east wall. Seating consists of hardwood benches, which appear to be original.

Diocese: Shrewsbury

Architect: F. X. Velarde

Original Date: 1956

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed