Mustard Lane, Croft, Warrington WA3
The church is a good and typical example of the type of unassuming Roman Catholic chapel built in the years between the Second Relief Act and Emancipation. As here, these buildings were often attached to presbyteries, whose domestic character helped to mask the religious function of the chapel. Despite internal alterations, the interior retains something of its original character.
Most of the Catholics in the Croft area were silk weavers, farm workers and labourers. They were served by a Jesuit mission based at nearby Southworth Hall until the site of St Lewis Croft was purchased in 1825. The first priest at St Lewis (or St Louis) was Fr Leonard Louis de Richebec, a French émigré, who accepted a locum tenens at the Southworth mission in 1795, and died at Croft in 1845 aged 82. Ten years later the parish was entrusted to secular clergy. The original farm buildings on the church site were converted to serve as a school in the 1820s. The first buildings of the present school across the road were opening in 1959. There is apparently no evidence for the attribution of the design to Edmund Sharpe, who would have been 18 at the time the church was built.
Catholic church 1827 (Pevsner). Brown brick with slate roof, rectangular with gable pediment, 3 window bays. Pedimented gable portico with Delian Order caps to columns and pilasters and continuous line of guttae separating the architrave from the frieze. The entrance is a recessed engaged fluted Doric column doorcase with fluted transome and radial bar fanlight holding a pair of 3 panel doors with raised and fielded panels. Gable windows are recessed with stone sills and flat skewback arches, those at ground floor built-up whereas upper windows are metal with leaded lights and some stained glass. The large metal windows to north and south have semicircular heads, leaded lights and stained glass motifs in upper sections.
Interior: No separate chancel and nave, elaborate fluted Corinthian giant pilasters, on pedestals, flank the apsidal sanctuary and form internal angles of east end, between these there are arched recesses with archivolts the north recess holding a high quality marble altar dedicated to “Our Lady”. There are good carved hardwood stations of the cross. The flat plastered ceiling has coved and bracketed cornice and a large ceiling rose with fret and acanthus decorations.
Architect: Not known (but the attribution to Edmund Sharpe in the diocesan directory is unlikely
Original Date: 1827
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: II