Building » Eastleigh – Holy Cross

Eastleigh – Holy Cross

Leigh Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire

Church built by Father (later Canon) Alexander Joseph Cory Scoles. Scoles (1844-1920) was one of two architect-priest sons of J.J. Scoles, eminent Gothic Revival architect and receiver of a number of important Catholic commissions, particularly for the Jesuits. He was a Franciscan Tertiary and before coming to Portsmouth diocese, was for twenty-three years in the diocese of Clifton, where he designed and built churches at Bridgwater, Trowbridge and Yeovil as well as the Carmelite church and Priory at Wincanton.

After falling out with the Bishop of Clifton, Scoles moved to Portsmouth diocese, where St Francis, Ascot was his first church. He went on to build St Swithun, and St Joseph, both in Portsmouth (1901 and 1914 respectively) and also worked on the west end of the Cathedral. His best work was Holy Ghost, Basingstoke.

Holy Cross, Eastleigh is a relatively modest building by Scoles. Finance was evidently tight and the east end was never completed, hence the rendered walls to the sanctuary and Lady Chapel. Its character has been considerably affected by the additions on both sides in 1962.

Eastleigh grew up in consequence of the London & South Western Railway’s decision in 1884 to build a carriage and wagon works here. Building began in 1889 and the works opened in 1891. In 1890 a second-hand ‘tin church’ was built in Leigh Road and here services were held until a Miss Ward promised to pay for a new church and which led to the building of the present one in 1901-2. It was consecrated on 13 August 1902.

In 1921 two cottages next door were bought and turned into the presbytery. The church was enlarged with north and south galleried aisles and a western gallery in 1962. The church was reordered in the late 1980s and the altar brought forward.

This church is oriented south and all direction given here are liturgical.

The church is a cruciform building in thirteenth century Gothic style and consists of nave, transepts, sanctuary, Lady Chapel (south), sacristy (north) from the original construction, plus galleried north and south aisles added in 1962.

It is built of red brick with limestone dressings. The roofs of the original structure have tiles with corrugated section: the extensions have flat roofs. The west end of the nave, sited directly on to the street, has three graded lancets and a doorway with shafts and, in the tympanum, a carving of the Crucifixion with the words ‘Per Crucem Tuam Libera Nos Domine’. The nave is of three bays and has two-light clerestory windows which have been truncated below the tracery level by the extensions. The transepts have three-light graded lancet windows and the sanctuary has three cinquefoiled circular windows on each side. The east wall of the sanctuary has a further circular window, this one containing four quatrefoils in the tracery. The aisled extensions have narrow windows terminating in depressed triangular heads. The entrance from the street to the southern extension is through a glazed and timber screen, and leads to an assembly area.

The interior is tall. The nave has a five-sided roof while that over the chancel has three bays each with an unusual inverted V-section (the valley meets the apices of the clerestory windows). The chancel arch rises to the full height of the building and is flanked by lower arches to the Lady Chapel and sacristy. The sanctuary has stone wall-shafts between the bays and also two string-courses dividing the walls horizontally. At the east ends of the sanctuary and the Lady Chapel are shafts and arches that would have led to eastward extensions had these been built as originally intended.

The north and south walls of the nave have been cut through to create three-bay aisles with galleries over them, and a west gallery has been formed. The south extension is much larger than the northern one. The apertures to the aisles and the galleries have depressed arches over them.

At the reordering in the 1980s the steps up to the altar were brought forward and are formed of polished limestone in semi-circular plan. The floor of the nave and those in the galleries are wood blocks laid herringbone-wise.

The nave seats are plain, movable benches. The altar is of stone, as is the semi-circular dais, both dating from the time of the reordering.

Heritage Details

Architect: A. J. C. Scoles

Original Date: 1901

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed