Building » Nottingham (Hyson Green) – St Mary (chapel-of-ease)

Nottingham (Hyson Green) – St Mary (chapel-of-ease)

Goodliffe Street, Hyson Green, Nottingham NG7

A late Gothic Revival brick town church of 1910, one of several in the diocese built by the Leicester builder F. J. Bradford, with some attractive Arts and Crafts touches and a contemporary presbytery. The design is not particularly original for its date, but is of good consistent quality. There are a number of notable design features and furnishings, including an external carved stone rood, stained glass and Stations of the Cross. The church has strong connections with the Venerable Mary Potter and the Little Company of Mary.

The Hyson Green mission started in 1877, when Mary Potter was given permission by Bishop Bagshawe to establish The Little Company of Mary (the ‘Blue Nuns’), the first Catholic religious congregation of women specifically dedicated to nursing. They were established in two cottages and a workshop in Lenton Street, amongst the newly-developed terraced housing of Hyson Green. In 1878 a site for a new school and chapel in Beaconsfield Street was given by Samuel Limpenny, and a school-chapel built to the designs of a Mr Wray (Centenary Booklet, 6; this was presumably C. G. Wray, who designed a number of churches and school-chapels in the diocese).

On 1 July 1909 Bishop Brindle laid the foundation stone for a new purpose-built church, the present building, which opened on 2 February 1910. A presbytery was built at the same time. A plan for the church and presbytery prepared by the Leicester architect Samuel Henry Langley, signed by the Leicester builder F. J. Bradford and dated 26 April 1909, is held at  Nottinghamshire archives (CA/PL/2/Plan 6453).

In 1939 the Lady Chapel was opened, a memorial to Provost John McIlroy, who had been in charge of the mission/parish from 1895-1937, and who built a school as well as the church and presbytery.

After the Second Vatican Council the sanctuary was reordered under the direction of Reynolds & Scott. This work involved remodelling the old high altar and providing a new marble sanctuary floor. It was probably also at this time that the original pulpit was removed and the font (originally at the west end by the main entrance) moved to the east end of the nave in front of the sanctuary steps.

In 1988 Mary Potter was declared Venerable, and in 1997 her mortal remains were reinterred in the north ambulatory of Nottingham Cathedral. There is a circular marble plaque to her in the south aisle of St Mary’s, by the Lady Chapel.

St Mary’s is now a chapel-of-ease, served from Lenton Boulevard. The presbytery is occupied by Sisters.


The church is orientated north-south, but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar faced east.

A late Gothic Revival church of 1910, with some Arts and Crafts features, built of red brick laid in English bond, with stone dressings and machine-made tile roofs. The church consists of nave and aisles, sanctuary with canted east end, and south Lady Chapel, also canted. There is an asymmetrically-placed tower on the south side at the west end, and a contemporary presbytery attached to the north side of the chancel, facing onto Belton Street.

The west front faces towards Goodliffe Street and has a projecting gabled porch with Gothic entrance under a hoodmould and original doors with elaborate strapwork hinges. Above this is a triple light window and in the gable an aedicule containing a statue of the Virgin and Child. A pattern of cross keys is set into the brickwork on either side of the triple windows, formed from darker purplish bricks. To the left is an asymmetrically-placed tower of Arts and Crafts character, octagonal and with an open belfry at the upper stage, surmounted by a conical roof and cross.

The  south front faces towards Cardwell Street, and is enclosed by original iron railings on a blue brick plinth. The bay divisions of the nave are marked by brick flying buttresses, and between these each aisle bay has a single lancet window with hoodmoulds and carved stops and each clerestorey bay a pair of lancets with stone dressings, hoodmoulds and carved stops. At the west end of the south aisle is a side door, and at the east end is the Lady Chapel. The east end faces towards Belton Street. There are lancet windows on the canted sides of the chancel and in the central bay is a large carved stone rood panel of the Crucified Christ flanked by Our Lady and St John. The presbytery lies to the north on Belton Street and is a two storey brick house of three bays with leaded light casement windows. The outer bays have double height curved bays with painted beaten lead panels between the windows incorporating diaperwork motifs. The front door is placed off centre, under a flat hood.

The front porch of the church  leads unto a narthex area under a western organ gallery, fronted by a triple arcade carried on circular piers, the central opening narrower and with a depressed three centred arch and the outer arches wider with four centred arches. This stone arcading has now been glazed in. Above this, the gallery front has trefoil arcading. The nave and aisles are of five bays. The walls finishes throughout are white painted plasters. The nave arcading is carried on circular piers with plain moulded capitals and arcades with hood moulds and carved stops. The paired clerestory lights also have hoodmoulds and carved stops. Oversailing the nave is a timber hammerbeam roof, with pendants on the hammer beams. The aisles have lateral arches with solid spandrels marking the bay divisions, and lean-to roofs with exposed rafters. A tall chancel arch separates the nave from the sanctuary, which also has a version of a hammerbeam roof. To the south, the later Lady Chapel is similarly detailed, on a smaller scale.

The altar is of white marble, carved with Eucharistic symbols, and has been brought forward to allow for westward celebration. Behind this is a multicoloured marble reredos with central tabernacle canopy elaborately carved and painted gold. There is painted quatrefoil decoration in the window reveals. The other walls of the sanctuary are lined with Gothic panelling up to head height. The marble floor of the sanctuary belongs to the post-Vatican II reordering, which was carried out with some care and attention to detail. It was possibly at this time that the octagonal font was brought to its current location in front of the sanctuary steps. The Lady Chapel was fitted out in 1939 and has an oak altar incorporating painted panels of Nazarene character. As in the sanctuary, the other walls are oak panelled.

The clerestorey windows have clear plate glass (possible war damage?), but the aisles and sanctuary have a good collection of stained glass ranging in date from 1913 to the 1940s. The glass in the tall lancets of the sanctuary, depicting St Mary and St Joseph, and in the Lady Chapel, depicting St Thomas of Canterbury, St Gregory the Great and St Augustine of England, is of particular quality. The makers/designers of these have not been established. The organ is by Rushworth and Dreaper of Liverpool.

There is a good series of opus sectile and mosaic Stations of the Cross, which look to be the work of Earley & Co of Dublin. The nave seating consists of movable pine benches.

Heritage Details

Architect: S. H. Langley (builder F. J. Bradford)

Original Date: 1909

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed