Building » Holy Cross and St Helen – St Helens

Holy Cross and St Helen – St Helens

Corporation Street, St Helens WA10

A substantial town church built for the Jesuits, and a late work by their favoured  architect  J.J.  Scoles.  One  of  the  two  principal  places  of Catholic worship in St Helens, with an interior which retains much of its original 19th century character.

St Helens developed as an industrial town in the 19th  century, although a Catholic chapel was built here as early as 1793 (subsequently enlarged and replaced by the present church of St Mary Lowe House, qv).  Holy Cross was established as a Jesuit mission, and the foundation stone of the present church was laid in May 1860 by Fr Seed SJ, the Jesuit Provincial.  Apparently concerns about the stability of the ground forced late changes to the design of the east end of the building, and the choice of a flat rather than a pitched roof. The building was opened in May 1862.

The church was reordered in 1980-1.

Catholic church. 1860-2. J. J. Scoles. Rock-faced stone with ashlar dressings, slate roof. Single vessel nave and chancel with aisles under lean-to roofs, transepts and side chapels under lean-to roofs; north porch. 8-bay nave has 3- light windows with Curvilinear tracery, those to clerestory have segmental pointed heads; aisle windows between weathered buttresses. West end (ritual west is actual east) has 5-light window above small entrance, with spherical triangle window above. Transepts have 4-light windows with rose windows above. Chancel has rose window with blind lights below. Some tracery heads have been repaired on south side of church. Interior: 8-bay arcades on slender octagonal piers; corbelled statues of apostles to spandrels. Flat ceiling with moulded beams. End bay of nave is enclosed, 1st bay of arcade has gallery with C20 screen below and to the sides. Timber chancel arch with rood and pierced with tracery; continuous alabaster altar rail. Timber parclose screens to chapels. Elaborate reredoses to chancel and chapels. Sacred Heart chapel in north transept has elaborate screen; entrance flanked by arcading on paired marble piers, wrought iron gates, rich reredos and blind arcading with pinnacles to north and west walls.

Heritage Details

Architect: J. J. Scoles

Original Date: 1860

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: II