Building » Hoylake – St Catherine and St Martina

Hoylake – St Catherine and St Martina

Birkenhead Road, Hoylake, Wirral, Cheshire CH47

A small church that is externally unremarkable, but has an unexpectedly attractive and welcoming interior. The combination of passage aisles, a triforium gallery, dormer windows and barrel vault roof is original, and provides a level of spatial complexity that deserves to be protected.

Mass was said in Hoylake from 1874, in summer for the benefit of visitors. By 1882 the Catholic Directory states that Mass was said on two Sundays in the month by the priest from Upton. In 1892 a joiner’s shed was taken over and converted into a temporary chapel, but in 1897 the church of St Agnes opened in West Kirby, and Hoylake was included in the new parish. From 1907 collections were made for a separate church in Hoylake, which finally became a reality with the opening of the church of St Catherine and St Martina in 1928.

The sanctuary was originally intended to be larger, but this was never completed, and in 1936 a hall was built up against the east end of the church. In the 1960s an extension was built on the north side of the sanctuary to increase the seating capacity. This was altered in the 1980s to provide better visibility of the high altar, and at the same time the hall was extended to provide additional meeting space. The 1960s extension was changed recently to serve as a chapel for weekday Mass.


The church was designed by Bertram Kirby of Edmund Kirby & Sons and built in 1926-28. Viewed externally it is an unremarkable building in brown rustic brick in a mixed Gothic/domestic revival style. The stilted west front with its stone doorway, lancets and castellated parapet appears disconnected from the large roof of the nave with its long dormer windows and low eaves line.

The interior is more original and also more homogeneous. Here narrow passage aisles are separated from the nave by an arcade of straight-sided arches. Each bay is extended up into a triforium with a low passageway under the roof, whilst the dormers alternate with the curve of the coffered barrel roof. The walls are built of pale grey brick which is stepped and corbelled in the typical Kirby manner. At the west is a large gallery with a brick porch below. The sanctuary has a panelled reredos, now providing the setting for a contemporary Resurrection figure; the tabernacle having been moved to the side wall. A steel crucifix by Rory Geoghegan SJ has also been introduced in the chapel. To each side of the reredos are carved figures of St Catherine and St Martina, the latter a Roman martyr (d. 226) under the emperor Alexander Severus.

Heritage Details

Architect: Edmund Kirby & Sons

Original Date: 1928

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed