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the slender steel windows had blue-green tinted glass which gave an atmospheric light, but these have regrettably been replaced by upvc windows with heavy frames.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.
Architect: F. X. Velarde; presbytery and Parish Centre by Richard O’Mahony,
Original Date: 1952
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed