Building » Upton – St Joseph

Upton – St Joseph

Moreton Road, Upton, Wirral CH49

A carefully planned and well constructed building in an attractive village setting. The church was designed by Adrian Gilbert Scott and built in 1953-54 in  a late Gothic Revival style, with touches of modernism in its interior form. It has been sympathetically re-ordered and retains its original character. The quality of materials and workmanship is high.

The Faithful Companions of Jesus were founded in Amiens in 1820 by Marie Madeleine de Bonnault d’Houet. They came to Upton Hall in 1863 and ran a boarding school, erecting new buildings within the grounds. They also opened a ‘poor school’ for the benefit of the neighbourhood. In 1875 a barn was converted into a chapel. The remains of the foundress were brought to Upton from Gentilly in 1904, though they were moved again in 1980 to Broadstairs in Kent.

Initially the parish included Moreton and Leasowe, but in 1923 they were separated from Upton and formed into a new parish. In 1954 a new church was opened on the opposite side of Moreton Road to the designs of Adrian Gilbert Scott. At the opening, Scott declared that it was the smallest church he had designed, and likened it to a beautiful village maiden.

The church was built in 1953-54 to the design of Adrian Gilbert Scott, the younger brother of Giles Gilbert Scott, with whom he worked on a number of church projects. It is built of narrow grey/brown bricks in a stretcher bond, with sandstone dressings. The style is Gothic, overlaid with moderne inflexions. The plan is complex for a small building. It has a nave with a sanctuary, two pairs of transepts, a narthex with west gallery and a broad west tower. Sacristies wrap around the walls of the sanctuary, confessionals fill the spaces between the transepts, and a baptistery and porch adjoin the side walls of the nave at the western end. The main elements have hipped pantile roofs, which stop short of the eaves, whilst all the minor elements have flat roofs with parapets. The tower is buttressed and its top has chamfered corners and wide crenellations. The west doorcase and the belfry opening above are dressed in stone with an idiosyncratic mix of Gothic and Art Deco notched motifs

Whilst the exterior is largely conventional in form and character, the interior is more individual. The sanctuary, tower and each of the four transepts are separated from the nave by straight-sided hyperbolic arches, all constructed of reinforced concrete. The dado wall surface is faced in thin slabs of grey limestone laid in random courses, with plastered surfaces above. The sanctuary is paved in buff and brown marble, and the high altar, which has been brought forward, is offset by a shallow pedimented reredos in a moderne style. The altar furniture is otherwise more recent, and the altars to the two side chapels, which occupy the larger eastern transepts, are not by Scott.  The  original  marble  altar  rails  were  removed  when  the  sanctuary  was  re-ordered. All the original joinery, including the narthex screen, the doors, and the skirtings is of oak. The pews have probably been brought in from another church.

Heritage Details

Architect: Adrian Gilbert Scott

Original Date: 1954

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: II