Building » Devizes – Immaculate Conception

Devizes – Immaculate Conception

St Joseph’s Place, Devizes, Wiltshire, SN10

A small church of two periods, designed by two well-known Catholic architects – Charles Hansom and Canon Scoles – which forms part of a significant group of Catholic buildings. A modern narthex has been added to the church but the main structure is little altered and contains some original fittings.

Captain Charles Dewell, a Catholic convert stationed in India, had approached a local priest, the Rev. Francis Larive of the Congregation of the Missionaries of St Francis de Sales, about establishing a mission in his home town of Malmesbury (qv). Both men arrived in England in 1861 and Fr Larive eventually settled in Devizes. In 1862 he introduced Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy, who took up residence in two large semi-detached housed called Wyndham Villas. A small temporary brick chapel was built nearby. A permanent church, the present building, was built in 1865 to the designs of Charles Hansom. Undated plans by Hansom’s assistant Benjamin Bucknall for a convent survive in the Diocesan Archives, but nothing was done. Although Hansom’s church was clearly intended to have a south aisle, at first only the nave was built. In 1909 a chancel with substantial sacristy was added, to the designs of Scoles & Raymond. The presbytery next to the church may also be by them. A substantial narthex containing ancillary facilities was added to the church in 1995. The parish is still served by the Fransalians and the Sisters of St Joseph.


The building is described fairly briefly in the list entry, below (where the name of A. J. C. Scoles is also misspelt).

The church is a simple building in the Gothic style of the thirteentcentury and consists of an aisleless nave, a short chancel with a polygonal end and a transeptal sacristy with a bellcote on the northern end gable. A modern (1995) narthex with a steeply-pitched roof has been added at right angles to the church at the west end of the north side. The west and south walls of the church are faced with rubble stone; the north wall, chancel and sacristy with ashlar. The nave roof has plain tiles; the other roofs have blue pantiles.

The steeply gabled west wall is relieved by two plain lancets. The south side of the nave is divided into five bays by stepped buttresses and is windowless, although the outline of the intended nave arches is clearly visible. A brick and slate lean-to is built against this. On the north side, east of the narthex, are three pairs of two-light windows and a small window above the sloping roof of the sacristy. The chancel has one two-light traceried window in the south wall, and two more on the angled sides of the apse.

Internally, the modern narthex contains four stained glass windows depicting the seasons, by Andrew Taylor of Devizes, 1995. Moving into the main body of the church, the nave has a boarded ceiling, with the principal trusses of the timber roof carried down onto wall posts. In the western bay is a timber gallery with an organ by Bishop & Son. The south wall, where an aisle was intended, has a blind arcade of five pointed chamfered arches with octagonal piers with moulded capitals and bases. The north wall has three two-light traceried windows with tinted quarries. The tall pointed chancel arch has a moulded inner arch carried on colonettes. Flanking the arch are statues of Our Lady and St Joseph carried on stone columns with elaborate capitals. An early photograph shows that the statues were originally part of the reredoses of two side altars. The chancel has a boarded and painted timber ceiling and the two-light windows on the canted sides of the apse have stained glass (Sacred Heart/Blessed Virgin Mary and St Joseph/St Francis de Sales) by N. H. J. Westlake, 1909. The sanctuary has been reordered to the extent of introducing a modern stone altar, but the fine tall timber reredos of 1909 and the carved timber communion rails survive in situ.  

List description


1865 by Charles Hansom. Stone rubble nave and chancel, no tower. Buttresses between pointed windows with 2 cusped lights, decorated rolled hood moulds over. Pointed doorway to side. Crocketed niche above with Our Lady and Child. Plain interior C13 style. Chancel of 1909 by A J Coles and Raymond. Arcade for south aisle built chamfered pointed arches. Polygonal apse. Fine altarpiece with fretted canopy to tabernacle.

Listing NGR: ST9996761601

Heritage Details

Architect: Charles Hansom; Scoles & Raymond

Original Date: 1865

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II