Building » Evesham – St Mary and St Egwin

Evesham – St Mary and St Egwin

High Street, Evesham, Worcestershire WR11

An early twentieth century Gothic church by Pugin & Pugin with many of the characteristic features of that firm (tall steeply-pitched roofs, cross-gabled side aisles, elaborate window tracery, dramatic altar compositions). The interior retains most of its original fittings.

The mission at Evesham was established in 1887 by the Passionists from Broadway (qv), who erected a temporary iron church in Magpie Lane. This opened on 21 April 1887, when Auxiliary Bishop Dr Ilsley preached. In 1897 Evesham was placed under the diocesan clergy and new site was purchased in the High Street, near the railway station, where the iron church was re-erected. A school was built in 1900-01 and a presbytery in 1903. The foundation stone of a new church designed by Pugin & Pugin  was laid in September 1911 and the church was opened on 27 November 1912. The cost of between £5,000 and £6,000 (accounts vary) was met in large part by the rector, the Rev. R. J. Patten. The church was dedicated to St Mary and St Egwin (the latter the eighth century bishop and founder of the Benedictine abbey at Evesham).  The old iron church was re-erected at Pershore (qv).

From a comparison with early photographs it appears that most of the original fittings of the church survive, including the altar, reredos, communion rails, pulpit and nave benches, although the present rood and rood beam replace a beam suspended above the altar.


The church is in a flamboyant version of the Middle Pointed Gothic style. The walls are faced with rock-faced coursed grey local limestone with dressings of Bath stone and steeply-pitched roofs with coverings of Welsh slate. The plan comprises a nave with shallow aisles, two transepts, a chancel with apsidal sanctuary and southwest tower and a northwest porch.

The steeply-gabled west end towards the High Street has corner buttresses, two small windows at lower level and a triplet of tall two-light traceried windows above framing a central image niche. The short southwest tower is of three stages with corner buttresses and pierced embattled parapet. The northwest porch has a pitched roof and tall pointed entrance doorway. Tower, gable end and porch are combined into a single composition by the raised stone string courses which run across the whole west facade. East of the porch the north side has three tall cross-gables with traceried three-light windows and a taller transepts with a pair of two-light windows divided by a central buttress. The south side is similar, but with a single-storey parish room set in front of the aisle. The chancel has an apsidal end with five two-light traceried windows at high level set under small gables. The chancel is flanked by lower pitch-roofed side chapels with rose windows in their eastern gables.

The interior has a woodblock floor and plain plastered walls with Bath stone dressings.  The nave has an openwork timber west gallery, north and south arcades of four tall pointed stone arches on octagonal stone shafts with moulded capitals and bases and a boarded open timber roof. The eastern bays of the arcades open into the transepts. A baptistery is placed in the base of the southwest tower. The tall processional aisles have stone transverse arches between each bay. The lofty pointed chancel arch is of stone and is flanked by lower stone pointed arches to the side chapels. The sanctuary has an elaborate timber reredos and the windows are all filled with stained glass. The altar, reredos, altar rails, pulpit and nave benches are original.

List description (the church was listed Grade II in 2016, following Taking Stock)

A Roman Catholic parish church, built in 1911-2 to designs by Sebastian Pugin Powell of Pugin and Pugin, in Middle Pointed Gothic or Decorated style.

Reasons for designation: The Roman Catholic church of St Mary and St Egwin in Evesham, built in 1911-2 to designs by Sebastian Pugin Powell of Pugin and Pugin, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: the exterior is a pleasing composition with interesting massing and good detailing, by Pugin and Pugin, a firm with a long and distinguished pedigree; * Interior: the internal space is lofty, and complemented by the abundance of high-quality carving and decorative details; * Degree of survival: the church remains almost entirely unaltered since its completion; * Fixtures and fittings: the church has a wealth of fixtures and fittings of quality by good makers, including stained glass, metalwork, timberwork and carved and painted reredoses.

History: The Catholic mission at Evesham was first established by the Passionist community at Broadway, in 1887, when an iron mission church was built in the town. Ten years later, Evesham came under the auspices of the Diocese of Birmingham, which moved the mission church the High Street, on the site of the present church. In 1900-1 a red-brick school was added, and a presbytery in 1903. A permanent church was planned, the established architectural practice of Pugin and Pugin was commissioned. The building was designed by Sebastian Pugin Powell (1866-1949), grandson of A W N Pugin, who was articled to the family firm in 1884 and remained there for the rest of his working life. The foundation stone of the new church was laid in September 1911, and the building, dedicated to St Mary and St Egwin – the C8 bishop who founded the Benedictine abbey in Evesham – was opened on 27 November 1912. The majority of the cost of the building was funded by the rector, Rev R J Patten. A sacristy was added soon after the church was completed. The church is otherwise little altered; comparison with historic photographs show that the current rood and rood beam have replaced an earlier rood beam over the altar, and stained glass was added to the side chapels and sanctuary in the 1920s and 1930s. The adjacent church school, built in 1900-1, has been converted to a parish hall.

Details: A Roman Catholic parish church, built in 1911-2 to designs by Sebastian Pugin Powell of Pugin and Pugin, in Middle Pointed Gothic or Decorated style. MATERIALS: rock-faced local limestone with Bath stone dressings and Welsh slate roofs. PLAN: the church is orientated east-west, and has a nave with narrow aisles to north and south, transepts, chancel with polygonal east end, north and south porches and a tower at the SW corner. EXTERIOR: the church is characterised by its high roofs and steep gables. It has a high plinth, cill bands and linked hood moulds; raised, coped verges; and varied and elaborate tracery to the windows. The gabled west end has corner buttresses, two single-light windows to the ground floor and three tall, two-light traceried windows above, around a central, canopied image niche with a statue of the Virgin and Child. To the left, unified with the west front by the plinth and cill band, is the side elevation of the NW porch, with two single-light openings. To the right, also with the continuous mouldings, is the short SW tower, in three stages, with corner buttresses, elaborate mouldings and a pierced parapet. The north side has the gabled north porch with pointed-arched doorway; beyond this, moving eastwards, are the three high cross-gables of the aisle, each with a three-light traceried window, separated by buttresses with offsets; then the projecting north transept. Its paired two-light traceried windows are separated by a buttress above which is a canopied image niche. To the east end, the tall chancel is polygonal, each of the five sides gabled, with a two-light traceried window at the upper level. The chancel is flanked by lower, gabled chapels to north and south, each with a circular window with tracery and cusping. The south side is similar, with the addition of a later, single-storey sacristy in matching style and materials, running along the length of the aisle and transept, with a shouldered arched entrance doorway and a large four-light stone-mullioned window. INTERIOR: the interior has plain plastered walls and Bath stone dressings. The floor is laid with woodblock, and the roof is boarded, with the scissor-braced trusses exposed. The nave has tall, four-bay arcades with of high, pointed arches springing from moulded capitals on octagonal shafts, with high, moulded bases with elaborate stops. The easternmost bays on either side open into the transepts. The narrow aisles have transverse arches articulating the bay structure. To the west is an openwork timber gallery, the central part canted out. The gallery is carried on chamfered and stopped posts, with a shallow arch between them, and cusped arcading to either side. At the base of the tower is the baptistery, its low metal gates with applied symbols; the floor is laid with red tile, and the space has a compartmental timber ceiling. At the east end, the high, pointed chancel arch is flanked by lower arches to the chapels, and is spanned by an elaborate rood beam. The sanctuary is five-sided, with a forward altar. The wall-posts spring from short, attached half-columns. Panelling to the lower parts is topped by the elaborate timber reredos, which is in seven panels, with a traceried arcade and pierced work above; the central panels open to reveal the tabernacle. The chapels each have a stone altar with carved decoration, and timber triptych reredoses. PRINCIPAL FITTINGS: the fixtures and fittings are contemporary with the church except where mentioned. The FONT is octagonal, with mouldings and cusped relief panels, on an octagonal shaft with moulded base. The cover is suspended above: octagonal timber, with a coronet of metal with applied gilded foliate motifs, matching the COMMUNION RAILS, which remain in situ. The PULPIT is timber, openwork with tracery and cusping. The REREDOS in the sanctuary, elaborately carved timber with painted panels, by Hardman. The chapels each have triptych reredoses, that to the north with gold-ground paintings, that to the south in a late Pre-Raphaelite style, possibly by Hardman or Guild of Handicrafts. The STAINED GLASS to the sanctuary and in the east windows of the north and south chapels is by Paul Woodroffe, circa 1924-5. The glass in the chapels is by Hardman, that to the north dating from 1928, that to the south, 1931. A highly-decorated ROOD BEAM and ROOD over the chancel arch replaces an earlier example over the altar. The nave BENCHES have open backs and shaped ends.


Books and journals: Pevsner, N, Brooks, A, The Buildings of England: Worcestershire, (2007), 295; Scarisbrick, JJ, History of the Diocese of Birmingham 1850-2000, (2008), 134. Other: The Architectural History Practice Limited: Churches in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham: An Architectural and Historical Review Prepared for English Heritage and the Archdiocese of Birmingham (2015).

Heritage Details

Architect: Pugin & Pugin

Original Date: 1912

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II