Building » Fordingbridge – SS Mary and Philip

Fordingbridge – SS Mary and Philip

Salisbury Road, Fordingbridge, Hants

Built in the 1870s to serve a community of Servite friars, and originally intended as dormitory accommodation. The church, attached presbytery and boundary walls are of interest as early examples of mass concrete construction.  

In 1872 John Coventry, a convert Anglican clergyman, inherited the manor of Nether Burgate, near Fordingbridge. He opened a chapel in the house, and there was a resident priest. One of his sons joined the Servite order as their first English novice. The Servites needed a Noviciate House, and the land on which the present church stands was given to them by Coventry, with sufficient funds to build a small monastery and church. Fr. Philip Bosio (the first parish priest) registered the chapel of St. Mary and St. Philip as a Catholic place of worship on April 5th 1875. The first baptism was in 1874 and the first burial in 1876. What is now the church was built in the early-mid 1870s as part of a building which was intended to be a refectory with dormitory accommodation above. However, the plans were scaled down, the floor was removed and a single volume created for the church.

In 1907 the Servites moved to Oxfordshire and the church was handed over to the diocese. It was served by secular priests until the Pallotine fathers took over just before the Second World War. They in turn handed the parish back to the diocese in 1983.

The church was refurbished in 1985 and 1999.

The St Philip of the dedication is St Philip Benizi, the thirteenth century Florentine head of the Servite order.

The church is orientated west-east, so directions given here are liturgical.

Single cell church with attached presbytery to east, built as residential accommodation for Servite friars. Construction is of shuttered concrete (evident in the basement of the presbytery and in the boundary walls to the burial ground), with a rendered finish to the church and presbytery. Plain tiles and eaves to the roof, with occasional bands of scalloped tiles. The church has gabled west elevation facing towards the road, surmounted by a stone cross and with a high central lancet window with a rusticated surround. Flank elevations of five bays, of two storey design, reflecting original two-storey construction. Timber casement windows with rectangular panes, except for the upper ones in the eastern bay, which have gothic glazing bars. Projecting porch on the south side, presumably dating from 1985, with ramped approach.

The church has a simple unaisled interior, white painted and suffused with light. Exposed collar and purlin roof, softwood painted black. The sanctuary walls are lined with modern timber panelling and there is a wooden altar of 1897 (a recent introduction, from the chapel at Netley Hospital). A late nineteenth century photograph on the wall at the west end of the church shows a richly polychromatic former painted scheme in the sanctuary, Baroque in character. There is a gallery at the west end, supported on two posts. Some brass Coventry memorials against the west wall. Plain benches in the nave.

The presbytery is attached to the ritual east, and is of three-storeys, also of rendered concrete, under a hipped tile roof with eaves and cresting on the ridge. Projecting south porch with gable and wooden bargeboards. The original casement windows have been replaced in UPVC.

The burial ground is bounded by walls of shuttered concrete, notably that running from the northwest corner of the church to the north boundary. Against this are placed the Coventry graves, including John Coventry (d.1897) and his wife Katharine.

Heritage Details

Architect: Unknown

Original Date: 1874

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed