Dudley Road, Winson Green, Birmingham B18
A large red brick Gothic church of the 1890s, of high townscape value but notable above all for the quality and richness of its internal fitting out. The church occupies an urban site opposite the city hospital.
The mission was established in 1877, initially served by priests from the Birmingham Oratory. An iron church was built, ‘an irritation to the eye and a source of inconvenience on account of its smallness’ (The Tablet). In 1880 the Rev Joseph Robinson took charge of the mission and built a school and then the present church, which was opened by Bishop Ilsley on 29 October 1895. The architects are generally given as Dempster & Heaton of Birmingham, although the practice had dissolved by 1894 (announced in the London Gazette of 3 July 1894). The church seated 500 and cost about £5,000. The Tablet reported at the time of the opening:
‘Architecturally considered, the new church is a work of real merit, and a credit to the neighbourhood. French Gothic in style, and of happy proportions, it is substantially built of Codsall stone and brick, with red stone columns. The extreme length of the building is 100 feet, and breadth 50 feet. The church bell, presented by Admiral Tinklar, swings in an artistic belfry to the south side of the facade. A chastely designed font, in alabaster and marble, has been presented by Mr Brady, whilst the organ is a gift from the family of the late Mr John Hardman Powell, in memory of their father. Mr Ralph Heaton has given a small stained glass window representing the Baptism of Our Lord’.
The church was consecrated in 1902.
The church is not orientated, but this description assumes conventional orientation, as if the altar was to the east.
The architecture is briefly described in the list entry, below, but this gives little hint of the richness of the internal furnishings.
The church was built from designs by Dempster & Heaton of Birmingham and opened in 1895. On plan it consists of an aisled nave and a sanctuary with side chapels. A baptistery gives of at the northwest corner, and gabled confessionals give off the south aisle. A vestibule runs across the whole of the western bay of the building. Towards the east end, sacristies give off the north side, linking with the presbytery. The church is built of red brick with Codsall stone dressings and tile roofs, in a French Gothic style of c.1300. To the road, the west end has a gabled entrance with moulded brick Gothic decoration, and is flanked by buttresses with cupola-like terminations. Above is a canopied niche with a (Portland?) stone statue of St Patrick. On either side of this are tall two-light windows with big sexfoils above. At the northwest corner is a projecting (former) baptistery with an apsidal end, while to the southwest corner is an octagonal bell turret containing one bell, with pronounced gargoyles, and a lower lean-to bay with a secondary entrance to the church. At the sides, the aisles are lit by single lancets, three per bay, while the clerestory has larger openings of four lights, with stepped lancets. The nave and chancel are under one continuous roof, the division between the two marked by a slender fleche. The chancel has a flat windowless east end, with narrow clerestory lancets at the sides.
Inside, a vestibule with organ gallery occupies the west end of the nave. The nave arcade is of four bays, with red sandstone columns on square bases with waterleaf detail, and moulded and chamfered arcades with plain hoodmoulds. Both nave and chancel have waggon roofs, while the aisles and chapels have lean-to roofs. The tall chancel arch has paired columnar responds with carved capitals, and similarly richly carved but smaller arcades, one on each side, give onto the side chapels from the sanctuary.
The church is richly furnished. Against the flat, windowless east end of the chancel is an elaborate high altar and reredos (photo bottom left), the altar of stone, alabaster and coloured marbles with a carved panel of the pious pelican at its centre, the reredos of stone with carved relief panels, angels and much crocketting. In front of this is a marble forward altar. The chancel walls were originally richly decorated, possibly by Pippett of Solihull, now mostly overpainted but retaining angels with outspread wings bearing scrolls at the sides and Christ in Majesty with attendant saints over the reredos. The sanctuary floor is paved with a mixture of modern marble and historic (Minton?) tiles. At the entrance of the sanctuary is a brass hanging pyx, a replacement for one stolen in 2011. The communion rails in front of the sanctuary have been removed, but survive in front of the side chapels, marble with Gothic arcading and fine bronze gates. The north (Lady) chapel is tiled, its stone and marble altar with a carved panel of the Nativity in the frontal and kneeling angels on either side of the tabernacle. The south (St Joseph’s) chapel is also tiled, and has a stone and marble altar with a large bronze Gothic reliquary at its centre, and a low reredos with a carved panel of the Crucifixion. Stained glass in the chapels, former baptistery etc. is probably by Hardman. The baptistery has now been closed off, and the fine alabaster and marble font moved to the east end of the nave, near the sanctuary. The nave floor is of woodblock, the open-backed pews (with shouldered ends incorporating quatrefoils) original or at least early to the church. According to the BIOS Organ Register, the divided organ in the western gallery is by Norman & Beard, 1912, and so presumably is not that given by John Hardman Powell mentioned in the Tablet account of the opening. There are large low-relief Stations of the Cross in Gothic frames in the aisles.
Roman Catholic, 1876-1895. Red brick with stone dressings; tile roof. To the road, the west end with gabled entrance flanked by buttresses with cupola-like terminations and, above, a canopied statue niche with, left and right, tall 2-light windows with big sexfoils above. To the left of this, the baptistry with apsed end, to the right, first, a bell turret with pronounced gargoyles and then, much lower, a lean-to bay and the subsidiary entrance to the church which admits on to a vestibule that is found to run behind the whole of the facade of the church. Inside, arcade of 4-bays with choir loft above the vestibule. Chancel with flat east end against which an elaborate reredos with relief panels and much crocketting. The chancels walls redecorated but retaining some angels with outspread wings.
Listing NGR: SP0470487636
Architect: Dempster & Heaton
Original Date: 1895
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II