Building » Accrington – St Joseph

Accrington – St Joseph

Belgarth Road, Accrington, Lancs BB5

A post-war Norman Revival church, notable for being built with voluntary labour, apparently without the involvement of an architect. The church has fine dalle de verre windows by Dom Charles Norris of Buckfast Abbey.

The mission was founded in 1949. The church was built in 1953-4 with voluntary labour using second-hand stones formerly part of a bank in Haslingden. (A walk-in safe in the sacristy also came from the bank.) Bishop Marshall laid the foundation stone on 19 December 1953. The church was consecrated in 1954.

The church is built in brick faced with rubble-faced coursed stone, with ashlar dressings and a slate roof. The plan is oblong, with a narrower west end and chancel. The sacristy is at the northeast.

The west elevation is divided into three bays, of which the central bay projects slightly. At ground floor level is a round-arched doorway with a fluted keystone and leaded fanlight, flanked by two oblong windows. Above are three round-arched windows with voussoirs and imposts, and simplified corbels under the cill. Above the keystone of the central window is a small sculpture of a praying angel. The west gables of the projecting narrow bay at the west and that of the wider nave both have curiously shaped kneelers, which give the outline of the gables an unorthodox shape (see photo top left). The south elevation has seven round-arched windows, with keystones, imposts, cill corbels, and chamfered reveals, which alternate with buttresses. The south sides of nave and chancel both have corbel tables. The east elevation has five round-arched windows below a rose window.

Inside, the narthex under the organ gallery has three arches of exposed brick to the west and a glazed screen to the nave. The gallery is supported on two canted brick pillars. The six-bay nave has tall brick arches of three orders to each window, as well as a brick dado (in English bond) and brick arches to the sacristy and confessionals on the south side. The suspended ceiling is lower than the chancel arch and detracts from the appearance of the interior. A window in the third bay from the east on the south side commemorates the building of the church (2003, Pendle Stained Glass). The east rose window, the five lights below and the easternmost windows on the north and south all have dalle de verre glass by Dom Charles Norris of Buckfast Abbey. The east windows depict the Creation, the window to the north has a cross, and that to the south a dove and a cross.

The pitched roof of the chancel is painted blue with gold crosses fixed to it. The sanctuary area has timber dado panelling, extending beyond the chancel arch into the easternmost nave bay. On either side of the arch are plastered blind arches, framing statues of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph. There are thin timber altar rails. The octagonal font is of polished granite. The forward altar is faced with white stone and black marble. The timber tabernacle stand has a domed canopy. The Stations are painted plaster casts in round-arched frames. 

In July 1991, several windows by Dom Charles Norris and the monks of Buckfast Abbey were installed in memory of Jane Greenough. In 2003, a new stained glass window designed by Pendle Stained Glass of Padiham was installed, commemorating the volunteer builders of the church.

Heritage Details

Architect: None involved

Original Date: 1954

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed