Building » Broadway – St Saviour

Broadway – St Saviour

Leamington Road, Broadway, Worcestershire WR12

A small chapel of considerable historic interest. Originally built as a chapel for a Benedictine community around the time of Catholic Emancipation, both monastery and chapel were taken over by the Passionists in 1850, when alterations to the chapel were carried out, possibly by Charles Hansom. The interior decoration was simplified in the twentieth century but much original and early fabric remains. The Passionists left in 2000 and the former monastery and retreat house have been converted to flats.  

The church was built in 1828-9 and officially opened on 8 September 1832 as a chapel dedicated to St Adrian and St Dionysius. It was intended to serve a Benedictine monastery which was built adjacent to the chapel from 1830 by Augustine Birdsall OSB, President General of the English Benedictines. Shortly afterwards, a wing was added to the monastery to house a ‘German College’ to assist in the teaching of languages. Birdsall died in 1837 and is buried in the churchyard at Broadway. Thereafter the monastery and school languished and the monks were eventually dispersed. In 1850 the monastery was purchased by the Passionists, who had been previously based at Woodchester Park. They established a community and novitiate in Broadway, re-dedicating the chapel to St Saviour. Shortly after their arrival the chapel was refronted (Pevsner describes this work as ‘unsubtle’) and refurbished internally with figures by Hardman & Co.; a new school was built in 1851 with a schoolteacher’s house (St Joseph’s Cottage), by Charles Hansom. It is possible that Hansom (who the Passionists would have known from his work at Woodchester, and who enjoyed the favour of Bishop Ullathorne) also provided the design for the west front of the chapel.

In 1908 a new retreat house was built at right angles to the chapel, replacing the original Benedictine monastery building (Pevsner gives the architects as Curran & Sons of Warrington). In 1900 a new marble high altar was installed and all the interior walls given painted decoration by Brother Mark Kangley. A new floor and timber panelling were installed in 1932 (Pevsner says 1935, at which time the murals were overpainted). The church was again redecorated in 1984 and the sanctuary reordered in 1988. In 2000 the Passionists handed the parish over to the Benedictines, who in turn handed it to the Archdiocese. The former monastery and retreat house have now been converted to private flats (‘The Retreat’).


The chapel is a simple rectangular structure under a single pitched roof, with walls of yellow Cotswold limestone and roof coverings of Welsh slate. There is a stone cross on the west gable and a gabled stone double bellcote on the east gable. The west front is of smooth ashlar masonry with pilaster buttresses to either side breaking through the eaves to form plinths bearing stone statues. The central round-headed doorway has jamb shafts and three orders of neo-Norman decoration.  Above the doorway is a stone plaque with the Passionist emblem and a round-headed niche containing a statue of Christ the Saviour. The ashlar masonry extends for one bay of the south side wall, which has a blocked round-headed window at lower level with a similar but fully-glazed window above. The remainder of the south wall is of roughly squared masonry with three tall round-headed windows. The masonry shows signs of disturbance and there may originally have been four windows. On the north side only two bays are exposed, with round-headed windows. The remainder of the north side and the whole of the east end wall directly abuts the former retreat house.

The interior has plain plaster walls, with no longer any trace of Brother Kangley’s painted decoration, and a flat panelled timber ceiling. At the west end is a timber gallery with a bowed front. On the north side is a small arched side chapel with a blocked round-headed opening beyond it at high level. The sanctuary has oak panelling around the perimeter incorporating stalls, with timber pilaster strips above. All the windows are clear glazed. The marble high altar of 1900 survives but its setting has been considerably changed through redecoration and reordering. The pews probably date from the 1850 reordering.

List description (the church, boundary wall, gatepiers and overthrow were listed Grade II in 2016, following Taking Stock)

Roman Catholic parish church, built as a Benedictine monastery chapel 1828-9, extended and altered circa 1850, possibly by Charles Hansom, for a Passionist community, converted to a parish church in 2000; together with its boundary wall, gatepiers and overthrow.

Reasons for designation: The Roman Catholic Church of St Saviour at Broadway, built in 1828-9 for a Benedictine community, later used by the Passionists, now a parish church, together with its boundary wall, gatepiers and overthrow, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: the building is a relatively early Catholic chapel, built at around the time of the Catholic emancipation, and has served as the place of worship for communities of Benedictines and Passionists, becoming a parish church in 2000, and thus has a long and varied history; * Architectural interest: the building is in a restrained but imposing classical style, and although the architect of the original church is not known, it was extended and refronted in 1850, probably by Charles Hansom, a prolific and accomplished Catholic ecclesiastical architect; * Group value: with the adjacent former church schoolmaster’s house, now the presbytery, built to designs by Charles Hansom in 1851.

History: The church was built in 1828-9 as the Chapel of St Adrian and St Dionysius, to serve a Benedictine monastery which was constructed adjoining the chapel from 1830, by Augustine Birdsall OSB, president-general of the English Benedictines at the time. Soon after this a new wing was added to the monastery as a college for the teaching of languages. Following Birdsall’s death in 1837 the monastery and college went into decline, and the monks dwindled and dispersed. The site was purchased in 1850 by Passionists from Woodchester Park in Gloucestershire; they established a religious community and novitiate. The chapel was extended by the addition of a new bay and entrance front, in a neo-Norman style; a bellcote was added, and the interior updated. The chapel was re-dedicated to St Saviour. In 1851, a school was built alongside the monastery, together with a schoolteacher’s house, which was designed by Charles Hansom (listed Grade II), who is also likely to have designed the new entrance front to the chapel. The interior of the chapel was altered in 1900 by the addition of a new high altar and the interior walls and ceiling were painted with a new figurative scheme by Brother Mark Kangley. New panelling and flooring were introduced in the 1930s, and the murals painted over. The chapel was redecorated again in 1984, and the sanctuary reordered in 1988. In 2000 the parish was handed back from the Passionists to the Benedictines, and thence to the Archdiocese of Birmingham. The former monastery building extending to the west of the chapel was sold and converted to private flats, which were altered by subdivision and the insertion of uPVC windows. In 1908, a retreat house had been constructed at right angles to the chapel, designed by Curran and Sons of Warrington, to replace the former Benedictine monastic building. A small portion of this building was retained by the Archdiocese as a parish room (not included in this List entry), and the remainder also sold and converted to flats, with subdivision and the addition of new windows.

Details: A Roman Catholic parish church, built as a Benedictine monastery chapel 1828-9, extended and altered circa 1850, possibly by Charles Hansom, for a Passionist community, converted to a parish church in 2000; together with its boundary wall, gatepiers and overthrow. MATERIALS The church is constructed from local Cotswold limestone under a slate roof. PLAN The church is a simple rectangle on plan, orientated east-west, with a small chapel projecting on the south side. The liturgical east end is at the west. Attached to the west is the former monastic building, and at right angles extending southwards is the former retreat house. The first two bays of this building are now part of the church. EXTERIOR The high single-storey church has long elevations of squared and coursed limestone, and a relatively shallow-pitched roof, the eaves carried on widely-spaced stone corbels. The entrance front is ashlar, with pilaster buttresses which break up through the eaves to form plinths for stone statues. The central, semi-circular-arched doorway has jamb shafts and three orders of neo-Norman chevron carving. Above the doorway is a stone plaque carved with the emblem of the Passionists, and above this a round-headed niche containing a statue of Christ the Saviour; the gable is surmounted by a stone cross. To the north return wall, the first bay, added circa 1850, is ashlar, with squared and coursed limestone beyond. The windows all have semi-circular arched heads. The first bay has windows to ground and first floor, to reflect the internal gallery; that to the ground floor is blocked. The remainder is in four bays, the first blind, the other three each with a large, semi-circular arched window, though the first bay shows evidence of rebuilding, indicating that a window has been blocked. To the west end the ridge is surmounted by a stone double bellcote. To the south side the two visible bays match those to the north. The next bay is occupied by a single-storey, flat-roofed chapel with a round-headed window with hood mould, a straight buttress and a moulded parapet. The remainder of the north side is abutted by the retreat house of 1908, and the 1830 monastic range extends from the west end of the church. INTERIOR The church is entered by a door at the eastern end (liturgical west end), under the gallery, which has a bowed timber front and panelling to the rear. To the left is a small room in which the font survives as the base of a bookcase. The church, as a single space with no division to the sanctuary, is plain plastered with a string course under the window cills. The windows are in deep, splayed reveals, and have plain glazing. The floor is parquet, and a continuous, flat panelled timber ceiling extends through the whole space. The side chapel, with a segmental-arch opening with a roll moulding, has a moulded cornice and coloured glass. The carved stone and marble altar has a Pietà reredos. The sanctuary is distinguished by oak panelling on all three sides, incorporating stalls, extending into timber pilaster strips above. The marble altar and classical reredos remain against the rear wall, which has a shallow round-headed niche above, with a large Crucifixion. PRINCIPAL FITTINGS The large ALTAR is of stone and marble, and dates from 1900. The sanctuary PANELLING and STALLS, with trefoil-headed ends, were introduced in the 1930s when the painted decorative scheme was replaced. The bench PEWS, with shaped ends and solid backs, probably date from circa 1850 when the chapel was extended and altered. Figures are by Hardman and Co, circa 1850. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES The roadside boundary of the churchyard is marked by a wall of squared and coursed limestone with a pedestrian gateway of two piers and an overthrow. The piers have limestone ashlar dressings with vermiculated rusticated blocks between, and moulded caps with a shallow modillion cornice. The round-arched iron overthrow incorporates scrolls, a central cross and lettering reading CATHOLIC CHURCH.


Books and journals: Pevsner, N, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, (2007), 178; Scarisbrick, J J (editor), History of the Diocese of Birmingham, 1850-2000, (2008), 111. Other: The Architectural History Practice Limited: Churches in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham: An Architectural and Historical Review Prepared for English Heritage and the Archdiocese of Birmingham (2015)

Heritage Details

Architect: Original architect not established; c1850 work possibly by Charles Hansom

Original Date: 1839

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II