Building » West Kirby – St Agnes

West Kirby – St Agnes

Darmond’s Green, West Kirby, Wirral CH48

Built in 1897, and the earliest of Edmund Kirby’s series of small-scale Catholic churches built to a limited budget, of which Holy Name, Oxton is the finest. The original building was simple in form and (unusually for Kirby) in detail; the sanctuary was added in 1905, and the present ensemble, pleasing but unremarkable, is the result of many  changes that have taken place over the twentieth century.

Mass was first said in West Kirby in 1894 in rented accommodation, but it was soon found inadequate, and two years later a site was purchased in Darmond’s Green for £1,000. Edmund Kirby was commissioned to build a church, which was completed within a year, with the opening taking place on 17 July 1897. Its dedication was to St Mary Star of the Sea and St Agnes, but two years later the title was simplified to St Agnes. The church cost £5,700, with £92 for furnishings.

The church was built at first without the present sanctuary, and only a small sacristy, but many enhancements followed. In 1900 the sacristy was enlarged and the presbytery was built. The choir gallery was added in 1901, and in 1905 the sanctuary was  constructed,  the  same  year  that  electric  light  was  installed.  The  organ  was installed in the gallery in 1908, with financial help from the Carnegie Fund, and the Lady Altar and pulpit were also introduced. The following year the Stations of the Cross were added, as well as the stained glass windows, and a heating system. The carved oak altar furniture dates from 1924. In 1950 new oak benches were installed and in 1954 the Lady Altar was modified so as to be visible to the congregation and enclosed by a screen, designed by Edmund Kirby & Partners, with a niche for Our Lady of Lourdes. Within the last ten years a glazed screen was erected below the west gallery to allow the church to be kept open all day.

The church, which was designed by Edmund Kirby, consists of a nave with west gallery, a sanctuary, Lady Chapel, southwest porch and sacristies. It is built of red brick with a slate roof. The windows are lancets, with moulded brick architraves and stone sills, set between buttresses. The eaves level of the nave is low, giving the church a modest appearance from the outside.

A contrast in scale is created internally due to the later polygonal sanctuary, which rises higher and has tall sets of lancets filling the wall space. The three east windows have stained glass depicting the Crucifixion flanked by the Nativity and the Resurrection. Stone is used for the later chancel arch and Lady Chapel. The nave is treated simply, with plastered walls and a low timber-panelled dado. The timber trusses of the five bay nave are partly exposed below the plastered ceiling which forms a straight-sided barrel vault. The sanctuary furnishings are of differing periods and styles. The Lady Chapel has a limed oak altar and stained glass depicting the Coronation of the Virgin.

There are extensive vestries, which connect with the house, and also wrap around the apse of the sanctuary below a flat roof.

Heritage Details

Architect: Edmund Kirby

Original Date: 1897

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed