Cresswell Old Lane, Cresswell, Staffordshire ST11
A modest red brick Gothic church in a rural setting, attached to an earlier (seventeenth century) house. The church is important as an early, pre-Emancipation example of Catholic church-building – the first to be built in north Staffordshire after restrictions were lifted in 1791. The interior is plain, with a gallery at one end. Most of the furnishings are modern, but the church possesses important vestments and sacred vessels from the chapel of the now-demolished Painsley Hall, and a window by A. W. Pugin to Lady Stourton, who financed the construction. The churchyard cross and (less certainly) the font are also attributed to Pugin.
There was a long history of priests serving as chaplains to the Painsley estate in the centuries after the Reformation. One such was Alban Butler (1710-73), author of Lives of the Saints (1756-59). The present ‘handsome Gothic chapel’ (Kelly) was built by the Rev. Thomas Baddeley in 1815-16 and funded by Lady Mary Stourton; it is thought to have cost £800. It was the successor to the chaplaincy at Painsley Hall (which does not survive) and possesses vestments and a chalice from the house chapel. For a while, from late 1817, the presbytery (an adapted seventeenth century house) acted as a small seminary, where there were eight pupils in 1818. It united with Longton for some time and both the Cheadle and Uttoxeter missions were founded from here.
A churchyard cross and a ‘richly carved font’ (so described by White) are attributed to A. W. Pugin, as, more certainly, is a stained glass window to Lady Stourton. Until 1960s reordering the church interior was far more elaborate, and included a rood beam supported on two posts, with Gothic arcading.
Since 2012 the parishes of Meir, Caverswall and Meir have been clustered.
The church is a plain Gothic design, built of red brick with render on the gable ends, and has a nave and chancel under one slate roof. Five bays on either side are separated by attached brick buttresses, with lancet windows with simple wooden tracery in between. The entrance porch is a later, probably early twentieth-century, addition. At the sanctuary end, the church adjoins the presbytery.
The interior is a long rectangle and owes much of its character to a process of simplification in the 1960s, from which time many of the fittings date. A rood screen put in as a memorial to Lady Stourton has been removed. The walls are mostly painted in magnolia, with a pale blue for the sanctuary end wall, replacing an earlier and more elaborate stencil scheme. At the west end there is an organ gallery carried on a pair of wooden quatrefoil columns, with a Gothick staircase to the upper level. The gallery front is covered with a modern painted panel with scenes from the life of Christ. The low-pitched ceiling is plastered. There is one stained glass window of 1848, designed by A. W. Pugin and made by Hardman. It depicts the Annunciation and was given in memory of Lady Stourton. Opposite is a modern window (unsigned) showing the Visitation. The marble altar with mosaic and opus sectile panels is quite a good twentieth century piece. White’s Directory (1851) states that the font is by A. W. Pugin. The present font is untypical of Pugin in being square, Romanesque and somewhat crude in the detailing (although in can be noted that Pugin countenanced a square font at St James, Reading, using salvaged material from the nearby abbey). Michael Fisher (pers. comm. 15 December 2014) suggests that it could be the work of a member of the Bailey family, stonemasons from Alton who worked for Pugin at St John’s, Alton and elsewhere.
List descriptions (the church and churchyard cross were listed Grade II in 2016, following Taking Stock)
Roman Catholic church of 1815-16 in a Gothic style, within alterations of the mid-C19 and mid-C20.
Reasons for designation: The Roman Catholic church of St Mary, Cresswell, built in 1815-16 and reordered in the 1960s, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: as an early, pre-Emancipation example of Catholic church building, and the first to be built in North Staffordshire after restrictions were lifted in 1791; * Architectural interest: although architecturally modest, its simple detailing is typical of early-C19 Gothic which pre-dates the reforming influence of A W N Pugin on ecclesiastical building; * Group value: with the attached presbytery and the mid-C19 churchyard cross which are both listed at Grade II.
History: The passing of the Second Catholic Relief Act on 24 June 1791, 232 years to the day after public Masses had been made illegal, allowed Catholics, subject to the swearing of an oath to the king, to practice their religion without fear of prosecution, and this included the building of churches. Church building proceeded slowly in the decades between the passing of the Second Relief Act and Catholic Emancipation in 1829. Activity tended to be greater in the rural areas as newly-liberated landowners built public chapels on or near their estates. The present church of St Mary was built in 1815-16 next to the existing priest’s house in Cresswell, an adapted C17 house (listed Grade II), and is believed to have replaced a church of 1791 on the same site. It was built by the Reverend Thomas Baddeley at a cost of approximately £800, funded by Lady Mary Stourton, a member of the family who owned the Draycott estate. Between 1817 and Father Baddeley’s death in 1823 the presbytery was used as a small seminary. At the beginning of the C19 Cresswell, together with Cobridge to the north, were the only Catholic centres in North Staffordshire, but by the end of the century the number of Catholic churches in the area had increased considerably. Until the mid-1930s when St Thomas’s Church was built at Upper Tean, St Mary’s remained the centre of the Catholic faith within the area. In the 1960s the elaborate mid-C19 interior which included a wooden rood beam with Gothic arcading and a stencilled decorative scheme was reordered and redecorated in a more simple style.
Details: Roman Catholic church of 1815-16 in a Gothic style, with mid-C19 and mid-C20 alterations. MATERIALS: constructed of red brick, with rendered gable ends and stone dressings, under a slate tiled, gabled roof with stone coping and kneelers to the south-east end. PLAN: it is rectangular on plan, with a small mid-C20 porch at the north-east end and a nave and chancel of five bays under one roof. The sacristy is situated within the attached presbytery (separately listed at Grade II) which was built as a house in the C17 and was extended in the early C19. EXTERIOR: the church is in a rural setting. Its entrance front (south-east) has a mid-C20 gabled porch with stepped corner buttresses. There is a pair of wooden doors in the porch, set within a pointed-arched, moulded, stone surround with a hoodmould and label stops. Above the entrance is a small, narrow light, and the side walls each has a single lancet window. In the gable apex of the church itself is an early-C20 statue of Our Lady set in a niche under a hoodmould. There are stepped buttresses to the corners which were originally surmounted by pinnacles. The side elevations are divided into five bays by buttresses and each bay has a two-light lancet window with leaded lights under a pointed-arched lintel of header bricks with stone stops. INTERIOR: the interior is plain, with painted walls and ceiling. The organ gallery is supported by a pair of quatrefoil cast-iron columns and its front has a mid-C20 painted panel with scenes from the life of Christ. The upper level is accessed by a gothick timber staircase. Most of the fittings are C20, but there are some earlier features including a stained glass Annunciation window of 1848 by A W N Pugin and manufactured by Hardman; several wall-mounted memorials of the late C18 and early C19, some re-located from Paynsley; and a brass memorial set into the floor. Within the porch is a mid-C19, Romanesque-style stone font. It has previously been attributed to Pugin, but it is now considered that its design and rather crude carvings are not typical of his work (Architectural History Practice, see Sources). The sanctuary (south-west) has a C20 marble altar with mosaic and opus sectile (a type of mosaic work using stone, tile or shell cut into shapes) panels. In the sanctuary wall are two doorways with pointed heads and timber doors with cusp-headed mouldings to the panels. One leads into the confessional; the other to the sacristy which is situated within presbytery. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the modern access ramp to the front of the church is lined with low brick walls surmounted with metal railings.
Books and journals: Bailey, P, A Short History of Cresswell’s Roman Catholic Community, (2000); Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire, (1974), 110. Websites: Cresswell – Draycott-in-The Moors Catholic Chapel: sepia drawing, accessed 3 November 2015 from http://www.search.staffspasttrack.org.uk/Details.aspx?&ResourceID=8300&PageIndex=1&KeyWord=cresswell&DateFrom=0&DateTo=2015&SortOrder=0&ThemeID=0;Parish website, accessed 3 November 2015 from http://www.augustineandmary.org.uk/stmary.php. 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)
House, now presbytery. C17, altered and extended mid-C19. Coursed squared and dressed stone; tiled roof; verge parapets on corbelled kneelers to left hand end; end stacks. C17 front has two storeys and 3 windows; C19 casements in original chamfered reveals, a small circular opening set in square reveal to first floor right; C19 hipped roof bay window to centre of ground floor; brick addition to right of similar eaves, but lower roof pitch; one window with bay to ground floor matching that described above; entrance set to left of brick wing, against C17 part and with hipped porch. End gable to left has blind C17 opening with label over.
Listing NGR: SJ9787439335
Churchyard cross, mid-C19, attributed to A W N Pugin.
Reasons for designation: The cross 20m to the north-east of the Roman Catholic Church of St Mary is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: a well-executed and well-carved churchyard structure; * Architect: its design is attributed to the nationally-significant ecclesiastical architect, A W N Pugin; * Group value: it forms a strong historic and visual relationship with the church and presbytery which are both listed at Grade II.
History: The Church Roman Catholic of St Mary was built in 1815-16 next to the existing priest’s house in Cresswell, an adapted C17 house (Grade II), and is believed to have replaced an earlier church of 1791 on the same site. It was built by the Reverend Thomas Baddeley at a cost of approximately £800, funded by Lady Mary Stourton. The cross in the adjacent cemetery was erected in the mid-C19 and has been attributed to the architect Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.
Details: Churchyard cross, mid-C19, attributed to A W N Pugin. MATERIALS: ashlar, probably sandstone. DESCRIPTION: a tall stone octagonal shaft with a foliage capital supporting a wheel-head cross with foliate terminals. The plinth is also octagonal with broach stops, and is raised on two steps.
Books and journals: Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire, (1974), 110. Websites: Churchyard crosses , accessed 16 Novemvber 2015 from http://www.puginfoundation.org/churchyardcrosses/ 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)
Architect: Not known
Original Date: 1816
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II