Blackmore Park, Hanley Swan, Worcestershire WR8
Image copyright Alex Ramsay
Image copyright Alex Ramsay
Image copyright Alex Ramsay
An elaborate mid-nineteenth century Gothic Revival church, built for the Redemptorist order by John Vincent Gandolfi on the edge of his country estate, and designed by Charles Hansom with the active assistance of Bishop Ullathorne. Its design is based on the mid-thirteenth century church at Skelton, Yorkshire. The interior is richly fitted, with fittings by A. W. N. Pugin, who is also credited with the design of the lychgate. Hansom’s former monastery, attached to the church, is now a private house.
The Blackmore estate was acquired by the Hornyold family in the sixteenth century. In 1808 Teresa Hornyold married John Vincent Gandolfi, a Genoese silk merchant living in London. During the first half of the nineteenth century the family wealth was considerably increased by selling land for development in Great Malvern. Teresa’s son, also John Vincent Gandolfi, was educated at Oscott and when her brother Thomas Charles Hornyold died in 1859, John Vincent inherited the Blackmore estate. Fifteen years earlier, in 1844, he had persuaded his uncle to give some land on the edge of the estate for a new Catholic church, for which John Vincent chose the designers and paid the building costs. He also rebuilt the mansion at Blackmore, which had its own chapel. He died in 1902, and the house was demolished in 1925.
The architect John Vincent Gandolfi chose was Charles Hansom (1817-88) a friend, fellow Yorkshireman and protégé of Bishop Ullathorne, who widely recommended Hansom in preference to A. W. Pugin, saying he ‘could do all that Mr Pugin could’. In the event, Hansom designed the church and Pugin designed most of the fittings. Bishop Ullathorne apparently helped with the design of the building. His autobiography notes ‘I had had something to say in the designing of that beautiful church [at Blackmore], the nave of which is an adaptation of the one at Skelton, near York … And the porch at Blackmore, one of the most beautiful of modern designs, was planned by Mr Hansom at my suggestion … I had also suggested the adoption of the Decorated style in the chancel, so as to express in the transition from the plain lancet of the nave into the more floriated and lightsome, the passage from the secular to the sacred and more mystical portion of the building…’ Work began in 1844 and the completed church was opened and consecrated by Dr Wiseman on 19 August 1846. ‘The only unfavourable circumstance of this happy day was the rain which fell almost incessantly’ (The Tablet).
The interior of the church was lavishly furnished. Every window had glass by William Wailes, the floors were covered with tiles made by Minton to the design of A. W. Pugin. All the metalwork was made by Hardman & Co., also to Pugin’s design. It was described by Phoebe Stanton as ‘unquestionably the most representative collection’ of Pugin’s church metalwork.
Initially John Vincent Gandolfi arranged for the Redemptorist order to run the mission (their second foundation in England). They arrived in 1844, took up occupation in Hansom’s monastery building when it was finished in 1846, founded the mission at Upton on Severn in 1850 (with a small church also by Hansom) and left Blackmore in 1851. Thenceforward the Blackmore and Upton parishes became diocesan and continued in tandem until 1980, when they were united. The parish priest lives at Upton, and the former monastery/presbytery at Blackmore is now let.
See expanded list entry (below). Major fixtures include the original stone high altar and side altars and the font by the south door, probably all designed by Pugin, the original timber screens to the sanctuary and side chapels, probably by Pugin, stained glass throughout the church by William Wailes, the brass coronae in the nave made by Hardman to Pugin’s design and some fine brasses including that to Charles Filica by Hardman and Pugin. The floors throughout the whole church are covered with ornamental glazed tiles made by Minton to Pugin’s design and the wrought iron gates in the porch were made by Hardman to Pugin’s design. All the altar fittings and most of the items of church plate were designed by Pugin. The organ (in the chamber off the north aisle) was restored and installed here in 1993; it was originally built in 1938 by the John Compton Organ Company for a Methodist church in Droitwich (on BIOS Organ Register).
List descriptions (Amended and expanded in 2016 after Taking Stock)
A Roman Catholic church of 1846, designed by Charles Hansom with internal fittings by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.
Reasons for designation: The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Alphonsus, built in 1846 by Charles Hansom, with interior fittings by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: for its high quality design, a notable example of an 1840s Roman Catholic church; * Fixtures and fittings: the church retains a near complete set of fixtures and fittings of exceptional quality; * Architects: designed by Charles Hansom with internal fittings by AWN Pugin, the church is associated with two architects of considerable importance. * Degree of survival: the church is relatively unaltered.
History: The Blackmore Estate near Hanley Swan had been in the hands of the Hornyold family since the C16, and in 1844 Thomas Charles Hornyold donated land for the building of a new Catholic church. The church, with an attached monastery for monks of the Redemptorist order, was paid for by John Vincent Gandolfi, a Genoese silk merchant who had married into the Hornyold family and would inherit the Blackmore Estate in 1859. For the new church, Gandolfi chose as his architect Charles Hansom, on the recommendation of William Bernard Ullathorne, at that time Vicar Apostolic of the Western District. Ullathorne advised Gandolfi that Hansom ‘could do all that Mr Pugin could’. Ultimately, while the exterior of the church was designed by Hansom, with input from Ullathorne who suggested basing it on the medieval church at Skelton in Yorkshire, the majority of the internal fittings were to AWN Pugin’s designs. The floor tiles were made by Minton, the metalwork by Hardman and Co., and stained glass by William Wailes.
Details: A Roman Catholic church of 1846, designed by Charles Hansom with internal fittings by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. MATERIALS: the buildings are constructed of Cradley stone with Forest of Dean stone dressings. The church has a slate roof. PLAN: the church is orientated east-west, with aisles and nave under one roof and a lower chancel to the east. There is a large south porch. To the north, a covered way links the church with the presbytery. EXTERIOR: the nave of the church is built in the Early English style and the design is based on the medieval church at Skelton in Yorkshire. The tall roof, with a bellcote at its eastern end, is continuous over both nave and aisles and sweeps down to low walls with simple lancet windows. Between the windows are small buttresses and a continuous stringcourse. The south porch has a large, pointed arch opening with a deeply moulded surround and ballflower decoration to the capitals of the shafts. The internal door is similar, and the sides of the porch have benches with pointed arcades above them. There is an iron gate enclosing the porch. The western end of the church has three tall windows with tall buttresses between them and an oculus above the central window. There is a carved stone cross at the apex of the gable. To the north, the organ chamber projects under a gabled roof from the north aisle. At the eastern end, the covered way projects from the sacristy, and connects with the presbytery to its north, with two-light windows along its elevation. The chancel is in the Decorated style, with two-light traceried windows in its north and south elevations and a large three-light east window with intricate tracery. There is a carved stone panel below this window, and a stone cross at the apex of the gable. The eastern elevation of the covered way is plan with buttresses and a door opening said to have been inserted during the Second World War. INTERIOR: the interior of the church appears to retain a complete set of original fittings by AWN Pugin. The entire church is floored with Minton tiles to Pugin’s designs, with more intricate designs used for the side chapels and the chancel. There are stained glass windows by William Wailes throughout. The nave retains timber pews with ends with pointed heads and cut-out trefoils, and is divided from the nave by arcades of tall pointed arches on quatrefoil piers. There is a ribbed vault over the nave which springs from corbels with carved angels. The aisles have lean-to timber ceilings; the sections over the eastern chapels have stencilled decoration to the ceilings and wall heads. Both side chapels are separated from the nave and aisles by painted timber screens, and both have painted stone altars and reredoses. In the northern chapel there is a recess under a carved and painted stone hood. The chancel is separated from the nave by an ornate timber rood screen across the pointed chancel arch, which is deeply moulded with clustered shafts. The screen is divided into three sections, with the central providing access to the chancel. The flanking sections have open tracery panels, all with painted decoration. Within the chancel there is collegiate seating with misericords, with a sedilia and piscina in the south wall, and an aumbry in the north wall, with a painted and carved surround. The carved stone altar sits in front of a reredos of five cusped ogee arches. The chancel has a rib vaulted ceiling springing from carved piers on angel corbels. The ribs are crocketted and there are ornate central bosses, all with painted decoration. The window reveals are also painted. The covered way which connects the church with the presbytery has a tiled floor throughout, and a vaulted timber ceiling with chamfered posts.SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: In the churchyard are the remains of a churchyard cross, also of 1846, now missing its top section.
A monastery building of 1844-46 by Charles Hansom, in use as a dwelling since 1851.
Reasons for designation: The presbytery adjacent to the church of Our Lady and St Alphonsus, of 1846 by Charles Hansom, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: the building is a high quality and striking design in the Gothic Revival style; * Architect: the building was designed by Charles Hansom, an architect of considerable importance. * Group value: with the adjacent church of Our Lady and St Alphonsus (Grade II*), and the lychgate (Grade II) at the entrance to the churchyard.
History: The Blackmore Estate near Hanley Swan had been in the hands of the Hornyold family since the C16, and in 1844 Thomas Charles Hornyold donated land for the building of a new Catholic church. The church, with an attached monastery for monks of the Redemptorist order, was paid for by John Vincent Gandolfi, a Genoese silk merchant who had married into the Hornyold family and would inherit the Blackmore Estate in 1859. For the new church and monastery, Gandolfi chose as his architect Charles Hansom on the recommendation of William Bernard Ullathorne, at that time Vicar Apostolic of the Western District. Ullathorne advised Gandolfi that Hansom ‘could do all that Mr Pugin could’. The monks took up residence in the monastery upon completion in 1846 but left shortly afterwards, in 1851, and the building has been in use as a dwelling since then.
Details: A monastery building of 1844-46 by Charles Hansom, in use as a dwelling and presbytery since 1851. MATERIALS: the presbytery is built of Cradley stone with Forest of Dean stone dressings, and has a tiled roof. PLAN: the entrance elevation of the presbytery faces north; to the south it is connected to the Church of Our Lady and St Alphonsus by a covered way. DESCRIPTION Exterior: the building is of two storeys and three bays with a one bay cross wing to the east. There is a timber bellcote on the main ridge. The main entrance is in the northern elevation, in a pointed arch surround with a moulded hood. The thick timber door has original ironwork studs and handle. Above the door is a two-light mullion and transom window with trefoil heads in a square surround. The tall gable to the east contains a single trefoiled opening at first-floor level. West of the door is a canted bay with modern glazing, flanked by single-light windows with paired windows in dormers above and small lucarne openings above these. There is a further door giving access to a single storey wing to the west, with a walled yard beyond with timber gates. The eastern elevation has further trefoil-headed windows, those in the large first-floor dormer have a quatrefoil opening above and a carved stone cross at the apex of the gable. There is also an armorial panel on this elevation. The southern elevation is of three bays, the third giving access to the covered way, and the cross wing beyond. There are three steeply gabled attic dormers at first-floor level. Interior: the main front door opens into a large hall which is understood to have originally been the monks’ refectory, with a large pointed arch halfway down its length and a door giving access to the covered way at one end. The windows retain original shutters which unfold to match the shape of the openings. The principal reception room has an ornate fireplace and timber beamed ceiling. Further rooms at ground floor level have original timber doors, some with quatrefoil viewing panes. The service range to the west retains some original cupboards in pointed openings, and one room retains dairy setlas. The main stair has chamfered balusters and carved newel posts, and rises to the first floor where the original monks’ cells have been converted to bedrooms. Most retain original timber doors. The second floor is much altered but retains original windows with decorative iron handles in lucarne openings. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES The garden is bounded by stone walls and to the east there is a stone outbuilding with openings which are said to have been used as lookouts by the Home Guard during the Second World War.
Books and journals: Pevsner, N, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, (2007), 358; Rosemary, Hill, God’s Architect; Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain, (2007), 354-5. Other: The Architectural History Practice Limited: Churches in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham: An Architectural Review prepared for English Heritage and the Archdiocese of Birmingham (2015)
Architect: Charles Hansom
Original Date: 1846
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II*