Station Road, Dorridge, Solihull B93
A simple Gothic brick church of the 1930s, enlarged and liturgically reorientated in the 1970s. The reordered interior is an attractive and welcoming space, with some furnishings of note.
In 1905, John Hardman, the stained glass manufacturer, who lived at Cross House, Arden Drive, Dorridge, obtained permission from Bishop Ilsley to build a temporary public chapel on land alongside his house. However, this was in use only until 1908, when the lease expired on Hardman’s property.
From 1915 an attic room near the railway station was used for worship, while funds were raised for a permanent site. Land was bought in Station Road (the present site) where an existing cottage became the presbytery. Here a temporary church was built (in wartime, and patriotically dedicated to St George), opening in 1917 and served from Solihull. A new presbytery was built in 1922, from designs by Harrison & Cox. The church was enlarged at various times, but burnt down in 1934.
The foundation stone for a permanent replacement church was blessed on 4 March 1935 and that part of it which was completed – the sanctuary, Lady Chapel, shrine of St Philomena, two bays of the nave, and the sacristies – was opened in November of the same year by the Archbishop of Birmingham (architect J. Arnold Crush of Edgbaston). Mrs Ellen Barber of Dorridge contributed £1,000 towards the cost of about £5,000. A new presbytery and parish hall were also built at this time.
The church was designed to allow for further extension to the west. This happened in 1977, when it was liturgically reorientated as well as extended (architect Cyril Horsley of Horsley, Currall & Associates, Stafford). The former sanctuary became a slightly raised seating area, the Lady Chapel a narthex. The widened plan at the new sanctuary end allowed greater proximity to the altar for most of the congregation. The church was reopened by Archbishop Dwyer on 15 November 1995.
In 2006 a new parish centre was opened (architects Brownhill Hayward Brown). More recently (2014), an angelus bell cast by Taylors of Loughborough and named Francis (in honour of the present Pope) has been erected under a canopy on the church.
The original church of 1935 was a simple, almost vernacular red brick design, with a pantile roof and window openings of Perpendicular Gothic character. It consisted of a nave with a Lady Chapel at the north and confessionals, shrine and sacristy to the south. Its functional west end was designed to allow for later addition. When this came in 1977, it was designed to meet the needs of the post-Vatican II liturgy, and the plan form was widened, to maximise proximity to the altar. The extension is modern in character, using complementary materials. It has a steep gabled ‘tower’ over the sanctuary, attached to which is a new (2014) bell under a gabled canopy. The original interior was designed with plastered walls over a brick dado, and an open timber roof with oak principles and purlins. The new sanctuary is top-lit and has internal finishes of red brick and exposed steel columns painted red (originally blue). The altar and sanctuary furniture are carved out of the Portland stone of the original altar. Above the altar is a figure of the Risen Christ by John Petts (1914-91), fibreglass with an aluminium finish. At the west end of the church is a stained glass window memorial to the parish dead of the Second World War.
Architect: J. Arnold Crush
Original Date: 1935
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed