Building » Dartmouth – St John the Baptist

Dartmouth – St John the Baptist

20 Newcomen Road, Dartmouth, Devon

A Gothic Revival town centre church by J. A. Hansom, with gabled west front giving straight onto the street. There are some internal furnishings of note, including two ornate stone altar  reredoses, but the primary importance of the church perhaps lies in the contribution it makes to the conservation area. 

A mission was founded in Lower Street, Dartmouth in 1782 and lasted until after the Napoleonic war, but was closed by 1821.  Some time later a Catholic convert, the Rev Lord Henry Kerr, donated £1,000 for building the present church, designed by the prolific J. A. Hansom and opened by Bishop Vaughan in 1869. An adjoining presbytery was built at the same time, incorporating some of the fabric of an earlier building (seventeenth century almshouses). The chancel was added in 1873-6.

List descriptions



Roman Catholic church. Nave 1868-9, chancel 1873-6 by JA Hansom, architect. Local limestone rubble laid to rough courses, Bath stone dressings (some replaced with concrete in the late C20); slate roof. PLAN: Church was built with No.20 (qv), the priest’s house, with a linking block making an overall U-plan. Nave is end onto the street with apsidal western chancel. Gallery at street end. Doorway into right (north) side from the link block which runs along the street. EXTERIOR: Minimal early Decorated style. Tall gable end on chamfered plinth to street. 2-window front. Paired trefoil-headed lancets to the lower level, taller lancets above and roundel above them, all with tracery based on trefoils. Image niche between the upper lancets with Gothic canopy and pinnacles. Bath stone quoins and bands at window sill and arch level although most replaced with concrete. Front of the link block to right in same style. Doorway a 2-centred arch with hoodmould containing plank door with Gothic-style ferramenta. Small lancet above lighting the steps inside and presumably secondary gabled dormer above that. Chancel has 2 arched, almost triangular-headed, windows with tracery making 3 quatrefoils. INTERIOR: Door into nave similar to external one. Nave has plastered walls, floor of C20 plastic tiles and 4-bay roof of open scissor-braced trusses. Tall chancel arch springing from slender columns standing on corbels, and similar columns to the ribbed roof of the chancel. Trefoil-headed arch to piscina. Stone altar with blind Gothic arcade to marble panels. Ornate Gothic-style reredos with carved figures in niches either side of taller central niche with tall canopy for the cross. Another similar, but less ornate, reredos against south wall behind a plainer stone altar. C20 communion rail. Plain joinery to the gallery and benches. This modest church adds variety to an attractive street of predominantly C19 architecture. Listing NGR: SX8778451104

(The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: Devon: London: P.324). Listing NGR: SX8778651095



Priest’s house. Probably 1868-9 by JA Hansom, architect, using the shell of what are believed to be almshouses built around 1630. Local limestone rubble. On the front it is laid to rough courses with Bath stone dressings (some replaced with concrete in the late C20); lateral stone stacks with brick chimney shafts; slate roof. PLAN: The priest’s house was built with the Church of St John the Baptist (qv) with a linking block making an overall U-plan. Like the church, it is built end onto the street. One room wide and 3 rooms deep. EXTERIOR: Minimal early Decorated style. 3-storey gable end to street, 2 storeys behind. 2-window front. Mostly plain paired lancets under Tudor arches but ground-floor window is 3-light in the same style. Arch-headed doorway contains original door of 3 vertical panels under plain overlight. Most of the quoins and voussoirs replaced in concrete. Right return on Chapel Lane has irregular fenestration including C19 four- and six-pane sash windows. Although the front wall is wholly C19, this wall shows obvious signs of earlier building, with straight joints, blockings, and projecting chimney shafts; one old doorway is blocked by a window with probably C18 thick glazing bars, and alongside to right is a blocked arch. INTERIOR: Victorian stair and other standard details. Possible C17 features are hidden. Roof not inspected. This priest’s house and attached church add variety to an attractive street of predominantly C19 architecture.

Heritage Details

Architect: J. A. Hansom

Original Date: 1869

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II