Building » Greasby – Our Lady of Pity

Greasby – Our Lady of Pity

Mill Lane, Greasby, Wirral CH49

A late church by F. X. Velarde, carried out on a modest budget, and small  in  scale.  The  exterior  is  given  an  element  of  drama  by  the inclusion of a tall tower, attached to the church by an arcaded entranceway, but the interior, which is defined by a series of low brick arches, is more striking. The church contains some original Velarde furnishings, including the high altar and a carved relief polyptych, and three expressive stained glass windows from the 1980s.

A site in Mill Lane, Greasby was purchased in 1940 by the parish priest of Upton, who placed on it an old army hut which had served as a church in Heswall since 1919. It was dedicated to Our Lady of Pity. In 1944 the first parish priest of Greasby was appointed, and F. X. Velarde was shortly afterwards asked to provide a design for a new church.

The  foundation  stone  was  laid  in  May  1951,  and  it  opened  on 17 July  1952.  An attraction at the luncheon after the dedication by the Bishop was a 42lb cake made by the nuns of Upton Convent which was a perfect model of the church. At first the old hut was used as a parish hall, but in 1974 a presbytery was built to the design of Richard O’Mahony, which was extended in 1975 to provide a church hall.

The church is a late work of F. X. Velarde, and consists of a nave, with sanctuary, sacristy  and  narthex,  to  which  a  tall  tower  is  attached  by  an  arcaded  entrance walkway. It is built of brick with small round-headed lancets paired below, joined by fluted concrete mullions, and single above, all on a diminutive scale. Between the windows are sloping buttresses, which support low transverse parabolic arches internally.  The  tower  has  a  pyramidal  copper  roof,  typical  of  Velarde,  and  tiny punched  openings  in  the  shape  of  a  Cross  (which  are  rather  unsympathetically covered in polycarbonate panels to keep out the pigeons). At first floor level is a stone relief carving of the Pieta. Originally the tower contained the baptistery.

The interior of the church is primitive and tunnel-like, dominated by the six arches, and focussing attention on the high altar. Originally the slender steel windows had blue-green tinted glass which gave an atmospheric light, but these have regrettably been  replaced  by upvc windows  with  heavy  frames.  An  arcaded  communion  rail further continued the arched theme, but this was removed post-Vatican II when the high altar was moved forward. The polyptych of the Crucifixion with Our Lady and St John flanked by angels was also removed, but in the 1990s it was brought back. It was originally painted in stronger colours. In the 1980s, the windows on the north side of the sanctuary were fitted with stained glass on the theme of the Elements – Earth, Fire and Water – in vibrant colours.

The presbytery was built in 1974, and was extended the following year to provide a parish  hall.  The  extension  adjoins  the  south  wall  of  the  sanctuary,  which  was removed and replaced by a folding timber screen. This allows the hall to operate as a dual purpose space, being opened up to the sanctuary for the Mass. In the last two years the presbytery and parish centre have been extensively renovated.

Heritage Details

Architect: F. X. Velarde; presbytery and Parish Centre by Richard O’Mahony,

Original Date: 1952

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed