Market Street, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, BA15
The church occupies the principal first-floor room in the mid-nineteenth-century former Town Hall, one of the finest and most prominent historic buildings in Bradford-on-Avon. The original character of the internal space has been considerably altered by the removal of the wall plaster and the introduction of modern fittings, but remains an impressive volume and a dignified setting for Catholic worship.
Catholicism was revived in Bradford-on-Avon in 1929, when a chapel dedicated to Blessed (St) Thomas More was formed within the property of Roger Kynaston in Church Street. In 1945 the Mass centre was transferred to Trowbridge Road School, until the diocese acquired part of the former Town Hall building in 1955.
Built in the 1850s, the Town Hall was a Jacobean Revival design by Thomas Fuller of Bath. Fuller had spent two years in the 1840s working on the (Anglican) cathedral in Antigua. He returned to England in 1847 but emigrated to Canada in 1857, establishing a successful practice in Toronto. From 1881 to 1896 he was Chief Dominion Architect for the Government of Canada, during which time he played a role in the design and construction of every major federal building. His best-known work is the Canadian parliament building in Ottawa. His Town Hall at Bradford-on-Avon was occupied by various offices of local government until 1911. Thereafter it was rented out for a variety of uses. Part was purchased by the Midland Bank and in 1955 the remainder was acquired by the Diocese of Clifton. The principal first-floor chamber was converted into the church of St Thomas More and other spaces adapted for other parochial and commercial uses.
The church proper is reached by a handsome flight of steps from the main entrance and occupies the principal room on the first floor, probably the original council chamber, which has large mullion and transomed windows overlooking Church Street. It makes for a grand and dignified worship space. The floor is close-carpeted, the walls have been stripped back to the bare stone but the original boarded curved ceiling survives. A sanctuary has been formed in front of the great window. The sanctuary furniture, including the elaborately carved stone altar with its wooden canopy, the altar rails with their turned balusters, the font and the lectern, are all of 1956 or later, as are the nave benches.
The properties of the Roman Catholic Church of St Thomas More and the Midland Bank in Church Street were originally built to house the Town Hall and Council Offices. Together these properties form the single most prominent feature in the townscape of Bradford-on-Avon. 1854-5 by Thomas Fuller of Bath. Ashlar. Occupying a corner site. The main entrance to the building is set diagonally across the corner of the building, which is dominated by a tall octagonal tower with an onion dome supporting a ball and weathervane. Moulded cornice below dome with finely carved grotesques at angles. Triple sound-holes to each face of the tower. Octagonal top has weatherings which rise from a larger base. The whole tower then turns square with parapets, large corner finials and Jacobean-shaped gablets effecting the change. Clock on raised field directly over entrance. Deep broken cornice under clock, with the extended centre light of a large 3-light mullioned window rising through cornice. Large sloping offset occurs above ground-floor level and continues across on to 2 low flanking extensions. Main entrance has a large flattened 4-centred arch with multiple mouldings, and a hood-mould with heraldic label-stops. Triangular fanlight and double wooden doors up 4 steps. Circular device with shield and date 1854 over doorway.
The Roman Catholic Church of St Thomas More forms a group with all the listed buildings in Church Street, The Chantry and Little Chantry, No 7 and Nos 9 to 19 (consec) Barton Orchard, Nos 5 and 6 and 27 to 31 (consec) and wall, Newtown.
Listing NGR: ST8258961012
Built as Police Station and offices, part of the design for the Town Hall of 1854-5 by Thomas Fuller of Bath. Now part of the Roman Catholic Church of St. Thomas More (qv). Limestone ashlar with hipped Welsh slate roof and stone stacks. Rectangular plan with rear stair turrets. 3 storeys; symmetrical 4-window range. Free Domestic Tudor style. Scrolled inscriptions, reading POLICE AND SUPERINTENDENT, above arched doorways with decorative strap hinges to plank doors. Chamfered mullioned and transomed windows, of 3 lights to first floor and 2 lights to ground and top storeys, the latter interrupting cornice which is continued to former town hall (qv); nowy-headed pediments to outer windows, surmounting parapet. Parapet returned to side elevations, and ramped up to stacks. Similar fenestration to sides and rear, the rear with hipped roofs to two stair turrets. Interior not inspected. Part of a remarkable composition by Fuller, holding an important position in the centre of the town.
Listing NGR: ST8258461021
Midland Bank, wall and arches
Contiguous with the Catholic Church of St Thomas More in Market Street. Mid C19. 2 storeys plus attics in gables. Ashlar. Slate roofs. One large gable to left and one lesser gable to right over the front. Both gables in Jacobean style with finials, the gable to left supporting balls on pedestals and containing a circular window with elaborate hood over. The left part of the building under the larger gable breaks forward and has a massive oriel window with sloping lead roof rising through a deep cornice. This cornice is a continuation along the Midland Bank of a broken cornice under the clock on the Catholic Church tower, Grotesque masks support the cornice over the oriel window. The oriel itself is supported by 4 large corbels divided by deeply moulded arches which rise over 5 lancets on ground-floor. Extended parchment scroll is carved under the oriel. The window is of 8-lights with mullions and transoms. The windows to right are of 3,4 and 5 lights, also with transoms and mullions. Door to extreme right, set in projecting frame with corbel-table and 3 small lights over. Doorway has 4-centred arch with square-headed hood mould. Large double 6-panel doors. Projecting plinth to whole building. To the left of the front is a wall with eccentric crenellation and 2 arches, the right larger than the left. Both are flattened 4-centred arches with drip-moulds, and label stops with crowned heads. Circular device bearing a shield over the larger opening, and a scroll over the smaller.
All the listed buildings in Church Street the Chantry Little Chantry, Barton Orchard and the Catholic Church of St Thomas More, Market Street form a group with Nos 7 and 9 to 19 Barton Orchard, Nos 5 and 6 and 27 to 31 (consec) and wall Newtown.
Listing NGR: ST8257161013
Architect: Thomas Fuller of Bath
Original Date: 1855
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II