Park Lane, Corsham, Wiltshire SN13
The church began life as a mid-Victorian school, commissioned by Lord Methuen of Corsham Court and designed by H. E and A. S. Goodridge of Bath, well-known local architects with significant Catholic commissions. The exterior survives virtually unaltered. The interior has been considerably altered to suit its present function and most of the furnishings are modern.
The building was erected in 1858, at the cost of Lord Methuen of Corsham Court, as a school for the education of the poorer classes in the district of Pickwick. The architects were H. E. and A. S. Goodridge of Bath, whose designs were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1857. Although the school had no Roman Catholic connections, H. E. Goodridge was responsible for a number of important local Catholic commissions – enlargement of Downside Abbey church, designs for the Pro-Cathedral at Clifton and for the chapel at Prior Park.
A fall in the local population after the Great War prompted the closure of the school in 1922 and the sale of the building in 1928. It then served a variety of commercial uses, including a gas mask factory. During the Second World War an influx of Irish workers building military facilities required the provision of a Mass centre in Corsham, and in 1944 the Diocese of Clifton purchased the old school building, which was then in poor condition and disused. It was opened for worship in April 1945. In the late 1950s the interior was opened up and several of the separate spaces were combined to form a larger worship area. A presbytery was built in 1959. A parish hall has been opened recently.
For the exterior description see the list description, below.
The interior comprises a nave and sanctuary with plain plastered walls under a single steeply-pitched open timber roof with three tiers of purlins. At the west end of this space is a deep gallery, which is probably inserted. A wide opening has been made in the wall south of the sanctuary to open the nave into the parallel range, which is lower but also has an open timber roof. This space, which was clearly two separate spaces originally, is used partly for worship and partly for other purposes. The fittings are mostly modern, but include the Stations of the Cross carved in wood by a nun of Henbury, a statue of Our Lady carved in 1980 by Michael Penny of Atworth and an oil painting of the Nativity recording the passage of Italian prisoners of war.
Schools, now Roman Catholic church and attached house, 1857-8 by H.E. and A.S. Goodridge of Bath. Rubble stone with ashlar dressings, Gothic style. School has plain tile roofs, coped gables and stepped buttresses at all angles. Complex ‘Z’-plan with additional range in rear south-east angle and projecting gabled porch in angle between north gable and east wing. Principal north- south range with wings to north-east and south-west, all gables treated similarly with stepped sill course under plate traceried windows with stepped cusped heads to lights, 4-light to main north and east gables, 3-light to south and west, and cusped trefoil in apex. North and south gables have corner stacks, north gable has steep ashlar bellcote. Porch has segmental-pointed doorway, ribbon scroll over and statue niche in apex. North front of east wing has 3-light window reaching into dormer gable and small 2-light to left, both with cusped heads. West side has similar 3-light and dormer gable with 2-light to left, 3-light to right. South side has 2-light to left of main gable. To rear south-east is range with east end stack, 2 dormer gables with 2-light pointed windows breaking eaves, and door each side with ribbon scroll reading ‘Girls School’ to left, ‘Boys School’ to right. A projection between the doors with stepped gable has been extended (1985) to mask right-side door. Complex triple-purlin roofs within, inserted floor to main north-south range. House, to east, has stone tiled roof, 2-storey with cross-wing adjoining school and coped east gable. North front has ashlar canted porch in angle to school, gable with 2-light window to each floor, pointed heads above, shouldered below and part infilled in ashlar to line of stair. Large outside stack to left, dated 1858 with 3-light shouldered- head window in base. South side cross-wing has half-hipped gable, cusped 3-light upper window over off-centre triangular ashlar bay with 2-light mullion-and-transom window on each face. Wing to right has upper single-light breaking eaves. Lean-to on east end wall with 2-light window over. Originally Pickwick District Schools, built for Sir G. Goldney M.P. Design exhibited Royal Academy 1857.
Listing NGR: ST8597070489
Architect: H.E. and A. S. Goodridge
Original Date: 1858
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II