Dormer Place, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire CV32
A large and handsome town church in the thirteenth century French Gothic style by Henry Clutton, a well-known Catholic architect. The interior is richly furnished. Despite the loss of the pyramidal spire, the church and its tower remain prominent features in the local townscape. The adjoining presbytery is also by Clutton, and contemporary with the church.
A Mission was established in Leamington in 1822. A handsome classical chapel with an Ionic pedimented frontage was built in George Street, opening in 1828. This was designed by John Russell of Leamington and dedicated to St Peter and St George.
This church was replaced in 1864 by the present much larger church in Dormer Place, overlooking the Pump Room Gardens. The new church, in a thirteenth century Gothic style, was designed by Henry Clutton, a Catholic convert and former business partner of William Burges. It was consecrated by Bishop Ullathorne on 17 August 1864. The principal donor was a Miss Ellen France but many of the fixtures and fittings were donated by others. The builder was W. Gasgoyne of Leamington. Clutton also designed the adjacent presbytery, which was built at the same time. In 1877 a tall south west tower and spire was built, again to Clutton’s designs, with funds from Miss France and with Gasgoyne as contractor. A peal of bells was cast by Messrs W. Blews & Sons of Birmingham.
In December 1883 a serious fire broke out in the organ at the west end of the church. The nave roof was completely destroyed. The roofs of the aisles and sacristies were saved but the whole of the interior was fire damaged and blackened. The building was restored under the supervision of G. H. Cox of Birmingham and the interior was enriched by further donations. It reopened in November 1884. In 1894 the north transept chapel was added, from designs by A. J. Pilkington and A. E Purdie.
The timber pyramid spire was removed in 1950. In 1998 the church was repaired after major flood damage.
The church and its fine collection of fittings are fully described in the list entry, below, and repetition is unnecessary. The list entry describes the architectural style of the church as Early English in style, whereas the character of the main body of the church at least is French.
Church. 1862-4 with tower of 1877 and restorations and rebuilding of 1884 following fire, with later additions and alterations including chapel to north transept of 1894, embellishments of 1901 and mid-C20 additions including garage and boiler house to nave. Original architect, Henry Clutton of London; builder, G Gascoyne of Newbold Terrace, Leamington; for Canon Jeffries. Restorations: architect, GH Cox of Birmingham; contractor, GF Smith. Transept chapel: architect, AJ Pilkington; designer, AE Purdie; for CJ Shaw. Craftsmen/manufacturers, Boulton and Company of Cheltenham; Hardman and Company of Birmingham; Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin; Minton; EH Cox and AB Wall of Cheltenham. Pinkish-brown brick in Flemish bond with Bath stone dressings and plain tile roof. STYLE: Gothic Revival, Early English. PLAN: south-west bell tower and tower passage; 5-bay, aisled nave with clerestory; short transepts, transept chapels EXTERIOR: tower has stepped buttresses to full height clasp angles. Entrance to south side of tower has pointed-arched opening with triple-chamfered head and double-chamfered base. Rounded stair turret to west at lower stage. First stage band. Slit windows to 3 sides. Second stage band. Slit windows to 4 sides. Corbel table. Pair of blind, pointed-arched openings to each side. Corbel table. Pair of pointed-arched bell openings to each side. Corbel table. Single-storey range joins tower to west end. Plinth. Geometric style, quatrefoil window. Eaves band. West end: chamfered plinth. Angle buttresses; stepped buttresses to either side of entrance. Recessed, central double entrance in decorative surround with statues of Blessed Virgin Mary and an angel between doors. Roll-moulded, pointed-arched surround with four 3/4 engaged columns with foliate capitals and hollow-moulded bases to either side. Floral and quatrefoil decoration above. Continuous impost band supports 2 outer lancet windows. Continuous band above. Rose window with fleurons to surround. Roll-moulded band continues around church at eaves level. 2 lancets to gable with continuous impost band. Further band and cross. Copings to gable. Nave and clerestory have lancet windows with chamfered surrounds. Roll-moulded impost and eaves cornices. Transepts have single-stage buttresses. Band. Cinquefoil rose window. Band. Copings to gable. East chapel of north transept has statue of St. Peter to gable end. Lancet windows to east end of aisles. Apse: first stage band, pairs of lancet windows with geometrical tracery to heads. Continuous impost band and hoodmoulds, further band. Decorative ridge tiles. INTERIOR: from west, organ loft supported on 3 banded columns with foliate capitals. Pointed-arched arcade with roll-moulding and continuous hollow-moulded hood supported by double-shafted columns, divided midway by a moulded amulet with foliate capitals and water-holding bases, on square plinths decorated with foliate and floral motifs. Responds to east end are similar double-shafted half-columns. Aisles: continuous sill band. Corbel table. Continuous moulded cornice acts as sill band to clerestory windows. Windows have chamfered surrounds. Wagon roof. Further arches to transepts and chapels have similar double-shafted columns and responds. North transept chapels have mosaic floors, north-east Chapel of the Sacred Heart has alabaster, Caen stone and marble altar, reredos and super-alter designed by AJ Pilkington and AE Purdie and executed by Boulton. To south-east Chapel of St Joseph and altar by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin brought from former Leamington Mission, George Street (qv). Chancel: altar rails on brass balustrade. Minton tile floor with symbols of the paschal lamb and pelican. Apse: sanctuary has moulded, decorated panels to first stage with images of Popes by Hardman and Company, F Hill, artist, to designs of D Powell, of 1901. 5 pairs of pointed-arched windows with Geometric-type tracery to heads and stained glass by Hardman and Company Alabaster, marble and Bath stone high altar by AB Wall of Cheltenham. Font by Hardman, Powell and Company. HISTORICAL NOTE: A fire of 1884 caused damage to the roof and structure of the church. It was restored and rebuilt largely to the original designs. Dormer Place was laid out c1822 and originally known as The Promenade.
(St Peter’s Church, Leamington Spa 1830-1901; McCallum L: St Peter’s Catholic Church, Leamington Spa Centenary Year 1964: Royal Leamington Spa: 1964-; Leamington Spa Courier: 20 August 1864; 11 November 1884: Royal Leamington Spa; The Victoria History of the Counties of England: A History of Warwick: London: 1965-: 159; Cave LF: Royal Leamington Spa Its History and Development: Chichester: 1988-: 173-5; Willington JR: Catholicism in Leamington Past and Present: Royal Leamington Spa: 1906-; The Buildings of England: Pevsner N and Wedgwood A: Warwickshire: London: 1966-1990: 334-5).
Listing NGR: SP3168165696
Presbytery. 1861-6 with later additions and alterations. Architect: Henry Clutton. Red brick with ashlar dressings and plain-tile roof. French Gothic style details. Lobby-entry plan. EXTERIOR: 2 storeys, 4 irregularly-spaced first-floor windows with single-storey range to left. Off-centre entrance: 4 steps to elliptically-arched opening and barrel-vaulted recess with part-glazed, panelled door within chamfered Caernarvon-arched surround. Pairs of 1/1 sashes with central colonette with foliate capitals and with chamfered jambs. The ground floor windows between continuous cavetto-moulded sill band and broad band to heads. First floor: continuous cavetto-moulded sill band with 3 similar but smaller pairs of windows and single 1/1 sash above door; continuous eaves band to heads of windows. Ridge, rear and end stack, raised gables. To left range: 1/1 sash in chamfered surround, continuous sill band. Further range with peaked roof and external stack. INTERIOR has dog-leg staircase with turned balusters, shutters to windows. HISTORICAL NOTE: Dormer Place was laid out c1822 and originally known as The Promenade.
Listing NGR: SP3171065678
Architect: Henry Clutton
Original Date: 1864
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II