Oriel Road, Bootle, Liverpool 20
The external appearance of this 1950s church is unremarkable, but the effect of the stained glass, coupled with other features and furnishings of note, gives the interior some quality.
The St Winefride’s mission was established in 1895 and first occupied a former Methodist chapel in Derby Road. The present church was built in 1956-7 from designs by R. Montgomery, to seat 525 people. The contractor was William Tomkinson & Sons and the original estimated cost was £75,000. Archbishop Godfrey laid the foundation stone on 19 May 1956, and the church was officially opened by Archbishop Heenan on 15 September 1957.
Large church of reinforced concrete and facing brick, with a shallow-pitched roof covered in felt (originally copper). The west entrance front is mainly of red brick laid in Flemish bond, with a projecting flat-roofed ground floor structure housing the narthex and ancillary functions. Above this, two narrow window openings flanking a central panel with yellow brickwork, on which is placed a large Crucifix, the corpus cast in bronze (sculptor T.C. Murphy) and the cross of teak. The north and south flank elevations are each dominated by a panel of continuous glazing (64 ft x 16 ft) in the upper half of the walls, with zigzag leadwork and coloured glass. Below this on the south side, working from the west, are a large window lighting the former baptistery, an apsidal projection housing the Lady Chapel, and a flat-roofed single storey range housing confessionals, sacristies etc. The east end is narrower, and staggered, with paired windows in the sides of the sanctuary and a plain east wall.
The narthex is flanked to the north by a mothers’ room with a large window for visibility into the nave. This, a novelty in 1956, is now a repository. To the south of the narthex, parish offices and beyond this the former baptistery (not inspected), described in the original architect’s account as having a mosaic floor and a stained glass wall depicting the Baptism of Our Lord; it is described as entered through wrought iron gates decorated with the symbols of the Evangelists. The marble font was moved to the sanctuary circa 1996. The Lady Chapel gives off the south side of the nave at the west end, and has been enclosed by a more recent timber and glass lean-to enclosure, to provide a separate heated area for weekday services. The chapel is top-lit with small roundels set into the ceiling, and has a marble altar and two mural paintings on the apsidal south wall, depicting the Visitation and the Assumption (painted by a Miss Blackburn).
The main space of the nave is large, divided into bays by reinforced concrete three-point arches spanning 65 ft and supporting the timber roof. At the west end, over the narthex area, is a gallery, accessed by a reinforced concrete spiral stair. In the gallery is a nineteenth or early-twentieth century organ, possibly brought from the previous chapel. The flank and west walls of the interior are dominated by the variegated tinted stained glass, with a gradation of colour from a rich ruby at the bottom rising to pale shades of green at the top. There are two rows of plain benches, and a central alley. The entrance to the sanctuary is flanked by re-entrants originally housing minor altars, now with statues of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart on pedestals. Above these on each side are large canvas paintings depicting to the north an apparition of the Sacred Heart to a nun, and to the south the Virgin and Child attended by St Dominic and St Rita. The provenance of these fine paintings, which are twentieth century in date, has not been established.
The sanctuary is paved in marble. The marble altar, originally nine steps above the nave, has been brought forward and brought down by two steps. Above the altar is a wooden canopy of polished mahogany with sycamore panels containing symbols derived from decoration in the Catacombs (architect’s account). A dossal curtain hangs from the back of the canopy, on which is placed a wooden carved and painted crucified Christ, in priestly vestments (also by T.C. Murphy). The paired windows in the sides of the sanctuary have abstract blue stained glass.
*Update: The church is now closed, and has been converted to a new use*
Architect: R. Montgomery
Original Date: 1956
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed