Hardwick Road, Hethe OX27
An attractive stone-built group of church, presbytery and former school building in a pastoral edge-of-village setting. The design is unassertive, almost vernacular in character. The Gothic church has an interior of domestic character, with good furnishings and decoration, including a stencil decorative scheme of the 1930s and stained glass by John Barnett. Most unusually, the sanctuary retains its pre-Vatican II arrangement.
During the penal years the recusant Fermor family maintained a chapel and mission at Tusmore, which drew Catholics from the surrounding area. They also established an upstairs chapel at Hardwick Manor Farm. This closed in 1830, and in 1831 the Tusmore estate went into Protestant ownership, leaving local Catholics without a place of worship. A new mission was established and an appeal launched by the Rev. A. Maguire, enabling the building of a small (internal measurements 49 ft by 26 ft) stone-built chapel in the Gothic style, on the edge of the village of Hethe. This cost £800, and was opened by Bishop Walsh, Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District, on 22 May 1832. A presbytery was built at the same time. The identity of the architect is not known. An early (1838) visitor was the Dowager Lady Arundell of Wardour, who considered the church to be ‘tolerable Gothic’ but the altar ‘horrible’; she asked Ambrose Phillips to persuade A. W. Pugin to design an oak replacement. O’Donnell attributes the present altar (and the font) to Pugin on stylistic grounds but, as he acknowledges, there is no documentary evidence for this.
One of the principal furnishings of the church is a large, probably mid-late eighteenth-century painted altarpiece of the Descent from the Cross, a copy of Jean Jouvenet’s painting for the Capuchin church in Paris (now in the Louvre); the figures are reversed, so it is presumably based on an engraving. It probably came from a Fermor chapel.
As well as building the church and presbytery, Fr Maguire acquired adjoining land for a burial ground at the side of the church (the first burial was in 1836) and a school (on which work began in 1831) to the rear. However Fr Maguire had to leave the mission in some haste in 1847 (there were strong suggestions of financial impropriety), and went to minister to the spiritual needs of transported convicts in Tasmania. According to the VCH, the school was not completed and opened until 1870. It closed in 1924 and was more recently used as a workshop.
In 1881 a large crucifix under a gabled canopy was erected in the burial ground, the gift of Lord North.
A late-nineteenth century scheme of stencil decoration was replaced by a more elaborate and rich scheme in 1932, under the Rev. Ignatius McHugh. The artist for this scheme is not known; it may have been Elphege or Oswald Pippet who, working as subcontractors to the Hardman firm, had prepared an even more elaborate (and expensive) scheme for Fr McHugh. According to Grant, this decorative scheme extended around the lower walls of the nave, but was here overpainted in the 1980s.
In the post-Vatican II years the church has, in Grant’s words, offered ‘comfort for lovers of tradition’. It has been something of a centre for the celebration of the old Latin Mass, and retains its original high altar, with no forward altar, and communion rails.
The interior is a single space, with an enclosed sanctuary at one end and a gallery at the other. The sanctuary ceiling is demarcated with a painted border, and has at its centre a painted representation of the Trinity. With its flat plaster ceiling and modest size, the interior has the feel of a domestic chapel, perhaps not dissimilar to that it replaced at Tusmore. At the east end, an eighteenth-century copy of Jean Jouvenet’s Descent from the Cross hangs over the Gothic high altar. On either side, carved angels under canopies bear shields (these figures were relocated from the side walls of the sanctuary, probably in 1932). O’Donnell considers the high altar to be ‘obviously to Pugin’s design’. The gradine is decorated with blind quatrefoil panels and has a central open brass tabernacle throne; below the mensa, recessed niches now contain diminutive statues. In front hangs a sanctuary lamp, of precious metals. In the corners, on Gothic pedestals, are polychrome statues of the Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart, installed in 1932. The sanctuary remains enclosed by its original Gothic altar rails, and there is no forward altar. A timber pulpit is placed on the south side, possibly c.1932. The sanctuary is decorated with a rich scheme of stencil decoration, with armorial bearings, symbols of the Evangelists in roundels, vine and tendril decoration and texts. This also dates from 1932 and is part of a decorative scheme which extended around the lower walls of the nave (overpainted in 1980).
The paired lancet windows of the nave are filled with stained glass windows, mainly to members of the Collingridge family. One of these (by marriage) was the stained glass artist Francis Barnett, of the Edinburgh and Leith Stained Glass Works, who was responsible for the five windows nearest the sanctuary (various dates up to 1870, none as early as 1832, as stated in the list entry). They include one to his father, John Barnett, stained glass designer of York, and his wife. The windows in the western bay are later (c.1876 and 1886), also to Collingridge family members, and are probably by Francis’ son William Collingridge Barnett.
The pews in the nave, of unusual (indeed ‘purgatorial’, according to Grant) design, with ovals and quatrefoils cut into the sides and folding bookrests, appear to be mid-nineteenth century in date. They are in three banks, on raised boarded platforms.
At the west end, the gallery is placed within the tower area. Its front has blind Gothic arcading, and below it are two doors with Gothic lower and glazed upper panels. Between these hangs a framed nineteenth-century copy of Correggio’s Madonna Adoring the Child Jesus (Uffizi, Florence). In the southwest corner is a small early nineteenth-century chamber organ, originally in domestic use, acquired from Pershore in 1986 by the then parish priest, the Rev. Terence McDonnell (it is included in the National Pipe Organ Register, ref. C.00044). In the southeast corner is the stone octagonal font with oak cover, the sides of the bowl carved with quatrefoils. The font is attributed by O’Donnell to A. W. Pugin; it is similar in design to that at St John, Banbury (qv), where Pugin also worked.
Entry amended 11.12.2020
List descriptions (in 2016, following Taking Stock, the description for the church was expanded and the presbytery and school separately listed, all Grade II)
The Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity, Hethe built in 1832.
Reasons for designation: The Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity, Hethe, built in 1832, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Date: as a church dating from 1832, built shortly after the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829, and one of the earliest of the many Catholic churches built in the decades following that Act; * Historical interest: as a small church built to serve a local community of working people, following the departure of the Fermor family, long-standing Catholic patrons;* Architectural interest: for its simple but dignified Gothic design, characteristic of its early-C19 date, with sturdy buttresses and tall crocketed finials;* Interior: the simple interior is largely unchanged, and retains some original fittings in Gothic style, including the gallery, and the high-quality altar rails; later additions of note include glass by the Edinburgh and Leith glass works, and the 1932 stencil decoration to the sanctuary;* Group value: the church forms a group with the contemporary presbytery, and with the school.
History: The Catholic parish of Hethe owes its existence largely to the long presence of the Catholic Fermor family in the area, first at Somerton, with which the family was connected from the late C15, and from 1642 at Tusmore, where a free-standing chapel was built. The servants and tenants on the Tusmore estate were largely Catholic, and the area was known for having many Catholic inhabitants. In addition to the chapel at Tusmore, a place of worship was provided during the C18 in the neighbouring Hardwick manor house, also belonging to the Fermor family. Following the death of William Fermor in 1806 Tusmore was rented to a succession of tenants, all Protestant, and eventually sold in 1857 to the 1st Earl of Effingham, who demolished the chapel.
The Second Catholic Relief Act of 1791 had allowed the building of Catholic chapels, and the 1829 Act of Emancipation removed many other obstructions. The establishment of a chapel to serve the spiritual needs of the many Catholics who remained in the Hethe area was undertaken by Father Alfred Maguire in 1831, who was charged with providing a building to hold 300. The cost of £800 was raised partly from local people; Maguire also made an appeal in the Catholic Directory, explaining that the death of the local squire had left his people ‘destitute of a place where they may be enabled to be present at the adorable sacrifice of the Mass’. The new church opened on 22 May 1832. The identity of the architect is not known. An early visitor was the Dowager Lady Arundell of Wardour, who investigated the possibility of commissioning an oak altar from A W Pugin; there is no documentary evidence that this was ever produced.
A number of changes were made to the interior of the church in 1932, including the replacement of the stencil decoration to the sanctuary with a more elaborate scheme, possibly by Elphege or Oswald Pippet; this scheme formerly extended around the lower walls of the nave, but was overpainted in the 1980s. Whilst many Catholic churches underwent internal changes following the Second Vatican Council of 1962-5, in response to the understanding that the celebrant was now required to face the congregation, Holy Trinity retained its high altar, with no forward altar, and its communion rails.
The presbytery was erected at the same time as the church, with which it is linked. The graveyard was acquired a year or two later than the chapel plot, with the first burial taking place in 1836. Land was acquired for a school in 1831, and work began, but the building was not completed until 1870.
Roman Catholic church, 1832. The church is in a Gothic style. MATERIALS: squared coursed limestone, with a slated roof. PLAN: the building is rectangular on plan, on a roughly north/south axis, being entered from the south, with the altar to the north. The following description follows conventional liturgical orientation. The church is linked to the presbytery by a single-storey sacristy, at the north-west (liturgical south-west) corner of the church. EXTERIOR: the church is of four bays, marked by offset buttresses; there are angle buttresses to the western and south-east corners. The west and east ends are gabled. The entrance is set within a broad projection, representing the vestibule. The central pointed-arched doorway with hoodmould and headstops contains the original plank and rail door. Above is a large four-light window with intersecting tracery; set back to either side is a tall single lancet. There is a stone cross to the central gables; the crocketed finials to the west end are replica replacements of 1997. To the sides, each bay has a two-light pointed window with Y-tracery, each having a hoodmould with headstops. INTERIOR: the nave and sanctuary are combined, with the shallow vestibule to the west, above which is a gallery. The ceiling of the sanctuary is demarcated with a painted border, with a painted representation of the Trinity at the centre. The sanctuary to the east is painted with a rich scheme of stencil decoration, dating from 1932, with symbols of the evangelists in roundels above, and below, armorial bearings, relating to the Fermor family, all linked by vines. The altar, which has been attributed on stylistic grounds to A W Pugin (O’Donnell, R, The Pugins and the Catholic Midlands, 2002) is decorated with blind quatrefoil panels with a central open brass tabernacle throne; below the mensa are recessed trefoil niches. Above the altar is a C18 mirror copy of Jean Jouvenet’s Descent from the Cross. To the south of the altar is a stone trefoil-headed piscina. To either side of the altar, stone canopied niches hold carved angels; these were moved from the nave walls, probably in 1932. In the corners of the sanctuary stand polychrome statues of the Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart on Gothic pedestals, installed in 1932. The sanctuary is enclosed by original Gothic altar rails, with iron intersecting tracery and a mahogany rail, and brass doors. To the south is a timber pulpit with blind trefoil-headed panels, possibly of 1932. The paired lancet windows of the nave contain stained glass, mainly commemorating the local Collingridge family, dating from the mid-C19 to 1870; the five nearest the sanctuary are by Francis Barnett of the Edinburgh and Leith Glass Works, a relation by marriage. In the nave, the narrow oak pews, with ovals and quatrefoils cut into the sides, are thought to be mid- to late-C19. In the south-west corner of the church is an early-C19 chamber organ, originally in domestic use, acquired in 1986. In the south-east corner is the stone octagonal font with an oak cover, its sides carved with quatrefoils; this has also been attributed to Pugin, being similar to that at St John, Banbury where Pugin worked. The gallery has blind Gothic ogival arcading to the front; below are basket-arched doors with Gothic panels below and glazing above. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: at the north-west (liturgical south-west) the church is linked to the presbytery by a single-storey Gothic sacristy, with paired pointed windows below a hoodmould. This has been extended to the north in the late-C20, the style of the extension being consistent with the church as to style and materials; this part of the building is of lesser interest.
Books and journals: Grant, J (author), Hethe-with-Adderbury: the story of a Catholic parish in Oxfordshire, (2000); O’Donnell, R, The Pugins and the Catholic Midlands, (2002), 95; Pevsner, N, Sherwood, J, The Buildings of England: Oxfordshire, (1974, 2002), 646; Websites: Victoria County History, accessed 8 February 2016 from http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol6/pp333-338
Presbytery (excluding duplicated history section)
The presbytery to the Church of the Holy Trinity, Hethe built in 1832.
Reasons for designation: The presbytery to the Church of the Holy Trinity, Hethe, built in 1832, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Date: the building precedes the 1840 date before which most buildings are listed; *Historical interest: as part of the historic group centred on the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity, built shortly after the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 and one of the earliest of the many Catholic churches built in the decades following that Act; * Architectural interest: for its restrained symmetrical design, and the retention of original features including the front door with decorative fanlight, open-string stair, a chimneypiece and joinery.
[…] The presbytery was erected at the same time as the church, its modesty presumably reflecting the limited budget. The church and presbytery are linked by the sacristy. There is also a school, not completed until 1870.
MATERIALS: squared coursed limestone, with a slated roof and brick end stacks. The majority of the windows have been replaced with UPVC. PLAN: L-shaped, with the principal section to the south, and the wing – probably slightly later – to the north-west. The house is linked to Holy Trinity Church, standing to the south-east, by a single-storey sacristy. The north extension of the sacristy is set against the eastern part of the north elevation of the principal section. EXTERIOR: the principal elevation is of three bays, with a central entrance. The doorway is sheltered by a late-C20 porch with a slated roof. Within this, the original doorcase remains, having a rectangular fanlight with geometric glazing; the six-panel door is probably also original, the upper panels now glazed. The windows have stone lintels, those to the ground floor having keystones contained within the lintel. The west return elevation is blind. The north-west wing is entered to the west; the entrance is enclosed by a modern porch. The windows on this elevation have segmental heads; there is a large window to each storey to the north of the doorway – that to the first floor retaining its leaded casements – and a small window to each storey to the south. The north elevation is blind. INTERIOR: the principal section contains two rooms to the ground floor, and two to the first floor. The ground floor rooms retain original moulded cornices, and doors and doorcases. The eastern room retains what appears to be an early-C19 chimneypiece, with fluted jambs and frieze. The chimneybreast to the western room is of unusual concave form; the fireplace is gone. To either side are shelves with cupboards below, thought to be original. The straight open-string stair has decorative brackets and panelling to the ground floor; the moulded newels and stick balusters carry the handrail which is ramped towards the landing, and turns to enclose the stairwell. The wing contains the kitchen, which does not retain original features, other than a chimney opening, and a heavy panelled door, leading to the exterior. The cellar retains its stone steps and original proportions. The first floor rooms retain some original doors and doorcases, and there is a small C19 chimneypiece to the eastern room. There has been some partitioning to the first floor.
Books and journals: Grant, J (author), Hethe-with-Adderbury: the story of a Catholic parish in Oxfordshire, (2000)
Former school house (excluding duplicated history section)
The former school house of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Hethe begun circa 1832 and completed in 1870.
Reasons for designation: The former school house of the Church of the Holy Trinity, Hethe begun circa 1832 and completed in 1870, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Historical interest: as a C19 school building constructed as part of the historic group with the Roman Catholic church of the Holy Trinity; * Architectural interest: for its simple design, distinguished by the copper cupola, and with an ecclesiastical element given by the pointed arched windows; * Group value: with the Church of the Holy Trinity, and the adjacent presbytery, both also listed at Grade II.
[…] Land was acquired for a school in 1831, and work began, but the building was not completed until 1870, when it opened as St Philip’s school (named for St Philip the Deacon). In its early days, the school provided places for about 20 pupils, divided into four classes. In 1930 numbers dropped, and the school closed. The school opened again during the Second World War, when some 30 children were evacuated to Hethe from St Patrick’s School, Walthamstow with numbers rising to about 60. In 1947 the school closed for the last time.
Since ceasing to function as a school, the building has been used as a workshop, and for social gatherings. It underwent a thorough programme of repair and refurbishment circa 2009-14 and is now in use as a church hall. The school bell which formerly hung within the building’s cupola is now housed under a gabled canopy to the west of the church.
School building, now church hall, thought to have been begun in the early 1830s, but not completed until 1870. MATERIALS: coursed limestone rubble, with a hipped slate roof. There are chamfered brick dressings to the windows and door surrounds. PLAN: rectangular on plan, set on a west/east axis, and entered from the south, the single-storey building has an entrance porch to the west, in line with the south elevation. To west and east are single-storey outbuildings, originating in the C19. EXTERIOR: rising from the centre of the roof is a rectangular copper cupola with louvered openings with round-arched heads and a lead roof; this originally housed the school bell. The south elevation has two pointed-arched windows, the timber frames having Y-tracery. To the east is a pointed-arched door opening, containing its original boarded door. Added to the building to the west is a gabled brick porch, also having its original boarded door, leading to an attached kitchen, and into the former schoolroom. In the north elevation there is a small window at a high level towards to the east. INTERIOR: the western porch leads to a narrow room, attached to the former schoolroom, and now used as a kitchen; this does not retain historic features. The schoolroom, always a simple room, retains few historic features, and has a new timber floor. The chimneybreast has lost its original plain surround, but there is still an opening, which once served a stove. SUBSIDIARY FEATURES:The western porch and attached kitchen are at the eastern end of a small attached outbuilding, with C20 timber boarding to the front and a corrugated iron roof. This was not inspected internally. Attached to the east end of the former school building is an outbuilding of coursed limestone with a C19 or early-C20 king-post roof structure, covered with slate. This has two wide openings and a third to the east has been partially filled with brick. The building has been much altered but appears formerly to have been in use for vehicles and for sheltering animals. The eastern bay has two vestigial pointed-arched openings, and may have at one time provided lavatories for the school.
Books and journals: Grant, J (author), Hethe-with-Adderbury: the story of a Catholic parish in Oxfordshire, (2000); Salzman, L F, The Victoria History of the County of Oxford, (1959), vol 6
Architect: Not known
Original Date: 1832
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II