St Mary’s Street, Crewe, Cheshire, CW1
Image courtesy of Rept0n1x at Wikimedia Commons.
A stately design by Pugin & Pugin. The bold red brick exterior and tall tower are local landmarks, and the church forms a good group with the adjoining presbytery. The interior is tall and wide, with an unobstructed view of the Caen stone high altar and reredos.
Mass was said in various modest locations in Crewe from around 1828, with priests from surrounding towns serving the Irish workers who arrived in the developing settlement to work on the railways from the 1820s. The first resident priest arrived in 1844. A presbytery was built on Heath Street in 1851 and a school-chapel followed in 1852; the school was converted into an infants’ and upper school in 1868. Continuing growth put pressure on the Heath Street school, and in 1870 a site on St Mary’s Street was bought, and a new school and the present presbytery built, part of the school being used as a chapel. It opened in October 1879.
Fundraising for a new church began in 1887. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Knight in August 1890 and the new church was opened by him in July 1891; it cost £4,500 and the later tower £2,000. The architects were Pugin & Pugin and the builders Treasure & Son of Shrewsbury.
After the debt on the church was paid, it was consecrated in 1939. It was redecorated in 1950, when the chancel glazing, rood figures and marble flooring were added. Plumb suggests (p.27) that the rood figures might have been designed by F. X. Velarde. Marble communion rails were also introduced at this time. In post-Vatican II reordering(s) the original mensa was brought forward, the communion rails removed and the font moved to the front of the church to replace the pulpit (the timber from which was used to embellish the font and make a lectern and ambo). A narthex screen was also added. The floor was replaced with wood blocks in 1984.
A parish centre was opened in 1970, since demolished. St Mary’s is the only Catholic church in Crewe and as well as the usual services holds regular Polish Masses, catering for a local population begun after World War Two at a resettlement camp at nearby Doddington. The church is served by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
The list description provides a good summary of the principal architectural features, and can be augmented with the information above. The marble communion rails mentioned in the list entry have been removed.
Catholic Church, 1890-1 (Pevsner) by Pugin & Pugin. Free Gothic. Red brick with slate roof. S.W. tower, 5-bay nave with side aisles and apsidal chancel. The tower has reducing angle buttresses, geometrical windows at lower level, lancets flanking niches with statues at clerestorey level, lancets in pairs at nave roof level and large louvred lancets at bell stage. The roof is pyramidal with overhanging eaves and mid-slope equilateral lucarnes. Narthex form nave entrance of ledged and battened door in stone dressed gothic headed gabled porch with kneelers, copings and cross finial. Geometrical windows to nave gable and chancel, perpendicular to aisles and quatrefoil to clerestorey all in stone frames. Half-brick-thick inter-window piers, stone sill band, moulded eaves cornices, gable coping, lead hips to chancel, crested tile ridge and cross finials.
Interior: Octagonal stone columns support the aisle arcades. The mainly gilded stone reredos has such gothic features as daggers, crockets and brattishing; also a baldacchino on marble shafts covering the tabernacle. Stone side altars flank the main altar and front the aisles, all separated from the nave by marble communion rail with religious motifs. Panelled ceilings throughout with arched chancel and nave trusses carried by carved stone corbels. Moulded plaster stations of the cross.
Listing NGR: SJ7018255720
Architect: Pugin & Pugin
Original Date: 1891
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II