Building » Liphook – Immaculate Conception

Liphook – Immaculate Conception

Headley Road, Liphook, Hants

A fairly late Gothic church by Scoles & Raymond, here using Decorated and Perpendicular detailing. The design, materials and massing of the exterior are pleasing, particularly in the views from the south and west. The interior is fairly plain, the main features being the stained glass and the high altar.

In 1869 Sir Archibald MacDonald, the owner of a large estate to the north of Liphook, was received into the Catholic Church, and converted part of his house, Woolmer Lodge, into a chapel. This was the start of the Woolmer mission. Sir Archibald died in 1901 and was succeeded by his son Archibald John. In 1908 the chapel at Woolmer Lodge burnt down, and the MacDonald family moved away from the area. Woolmer Lodge became a Carmelite convent and the family sold a plot of about 60,000 square feet to the diocese for the building of a new church, school and cemetery. It is understood that Sir Archibald also paid for the building of the church (the school and cemetery were never realised). It was built from designs by Canon A.J.C. Scoles and his partner (from 1903-20) Geoffrey Raymond (1881-1972).

Scoles (1844-1920) was one of two architect-priest sons of J. J. Scoles, eminent Gothic Revival architect and receiver of a number of important Catholic commissions, particularly for the Jesuits. Before coming to Portsmouth diocese, Canon Scoles was in the diocese of Clifton, where he designed and built churches at Bridgwater, Trowbridge and Yeovil as well as the Carmelite church and Priory at Wincanton. After falling out with the Bishop of Clifton, Scoles moved to Portsmouth diocese. St Joseph’s is his second Portsmouth church (after St Swithun in 1901) and was built shortly after he had added the narthex, porch and turrets at the west end of the Cathedral. His best work is Holy Ghost, Basingstoke (from 1902).The church at Liphook is later than those churches, and is not built on the same scale, although it has a number of similarities with Holy Ghost Basingstoke.

Liphook became an independent parish in 1920. At that time the priest lived in a house further down the road; the present presbytery to the southeast of the church was built in 1962. In 1965 a car park was laid out in front of the presbytery, to the south of the church. In 1969 a timber-clad parish hall was built to the east of the church. The east end was underpinned and the church re-roofed in 1992.


The church is built in a Decorated and Perpendicular Gothic style, of local brownish-yellow sandstone laid in irregular courses, with limestone dressings, under a pantile roof. West porch, nave, chancel, south transept (sacristy), stair turret and belfry in the angle of the nave and transept.

The church is entered through an embattled west porch with a door on its south side, surmounted by a statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Above this, a three-light, trefoil-headed Decorated west window, gable with narrow louvred lancet surmounted by a stone cross. The elevation is framed by stepped buttresses. The north elevation is plain, and consists of three two-light trefoil-headed and flat topped Perpendicular windows to the nave and two shorter lancets with cusped trefoils and two-centred arches to the chancel. Plain corbels support the gutter eaves. There is a buttress at the west end only; the northeast corner is treated plainly. Similar treatment for south side of the nave as far as the ‘transept’, which projects to the south, and houses the sacristy, with the organ chamber above. The west elevation of the transept has paired windows with Tudor arches in stone surrounds to the ground floor and a single window with similar detail above. The masonry is left rough at the corners of the transept, indicating an intention to build against this, possibly for the intended school. An octagonal stair turret of about 40 feet is placed in the angle of the transept and nave, with narrow Tudor arches living light to the stair. Louvred belfry stage with dripmoulds over the openings, surmounted by an embattled parapet. The east elevation is plain.

The interior consists of a narrow single space under a wagon roof. The chancel is raised two steps up from the nave and the high altar a further three steps above that. The high altar is an elaborate stone and marble construction with pinnacles and a central Gothic canopy, and a carved frontal depicting the Last Supper. The east wall is plain, apart from a tall and ostensibly blocked arch, possibly reflecting (with the lack of external buttresses) an earlier intention for a larger building. There is an oak forward altar, introduced in 1993. Two doors on the south side of the nave and sanctuary lead to the sacristy, and above this is a pair of open arches to the organ gallery. The pipe organ has been removed and replaced with an electronic organ. There are three stained glass windows in the chancel, two on the north side (Blessed Virgin Mary and St John) and one on the south side (St Katharine). They date from 1911 and may be attributed on stylistic and circumstantial grounds to Lavers & Westlake, who worked elsewhere for the architect. The floor is of tessellated marble screed, as elsewhere in Scoles’s churches. The nave pews are of pine, with IHS inscribed in most of inverted ogee-headed bench ends.

Entry amended by AHP 26.20.2020

Heritage Details

Architect: A. J. C. Scoles and Geoffrey Raymond

Original Date: 1911

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed