Worcester Road, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire B60
A High Victorian church of some distinction by a well-known Catholic architect, in the manner of E. W. Pugin and incorporating important furnishings by A. W. N. Pugin from Alton Towers. The interior is little-altered. The church has historical associations with Sir Edward Elgar.
Grafton Manor, 1.5 miles southwest of Bromsgrove, was the seat of the important recusant family, the Talbots, Earls of Shrewsbury. Jesuit priests ministered at Grafton from 1623 to 1874. The fifteenth century chapel adjoining the house was ruinous in the late eighteenth century but was restored in 1809 and again in 1819 and served local Catholics until the opening of the present church. This was built on land donated by William Stott in 1853; he and his sister also gave £2,300 towards the cost of the building. It was designed by Gilbert R. Blount and built between 1858 and 1860; the contractors were James Wilson & Co. of Birmingham. The church was first used on 9 December 1860 and the official opening by Bishop Ullathorne took place on 24 September 1862. The altar and reredos, designed by A. W. N. Pugin, were brought here from Alton Towers, when Catholic use of the chapel there ceased after the death of the seventeenth earl.
In 1865 a Caen and Bath stone pulpit was erected in the church, and the hitherto plain label stops to the door and windows in the sanctuary carved with heads and foliage, all by Boulton of Worcester, and paid for by the mission priest, the Rev. J. Fanning. Consecration took place on 29 September 1910.
In 1975 the walls were painted, covering over the 1930s stencil work in the sanctuary. The presbytery was built in c.1965.
The list description (see below) gives a thorough description of the building and its principal fittings and furnishings. To this can be added the following:
Roman Catholic Church. 1858. By Gilbert R. Blount. Local grey/red soft sandstone. Plain tile roof with gabled and hipped ends and moulded eaves. PLAN: Aisleless nave and sanctuary in one, with polygonal apse; porch and separate vestry on the north side. High Victorian Gothic style. EXTERIOR: The nave and sanctuary in one with polygonal apse; buttresses with set-offs between the windows, the nave with 3-light Geometric tracery windows, the apse with smaller 2-light Reticulated tracery windows; stringcourse at cill level rises to higher cill level of sanctuary windows. The west end gable breaks forward at centre with tall buttress at base, flanked by two tall 2-light windows with Geometrically traceried rose window above, over which is small niche and broad tripartite bellcote, its small gables with little wrought-iron crosses and another cross over the ridge of the sanctuary. Attached to the north side of the sanctuary, the gable-ended vestry. At the west end of the north side, the gabled porch with flanking buttresses, deeply roll-moulded arch with two orders of shafts and niche above; double-doors with ornate wrought-iron hinges. Moulded cast-iron gutters and drain-pipes with ornate heads and brackets. INTERIOR: Largely unaltered. Plastered walls and elaborate timber roof with arch-braced trusses on corbels and cusped wind-braces; the truss over the screen on compound wall pier. Intricate wrought-iron rood screen of 1862 with Bavarian statues. Altar by A.W.N. Pugin [incorporating Continental Medieval work] brought from Alton Towers in 1860; comprising an altar table and a fine retable in the form of a triptych with spires, pinnacles and canopies, gilded and painted, portrayals of the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury. Other furnishings include a stone pulpit, font and benches with shaped ends. The sanctuary windows with niche shafts and stained glass of circa 1863. Memorial glass of 1913 and circa 1918. Organ installed 1912. Sir Edward Elgar attended the church when staying with his sister who lived nearby; he composed a Mass for the church.
SOURCES: Buildings of England, p.110. Newbold, J., A History of the Catholic Church in Bromsgrove; 1992.
Listing NGR: SO9528269837
Architect: Gilbert Blount
Original Date: 1858
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II