West Derby Road, Everton, Liverpool L6
One of E.W. Pugin’s ‘industrial designs’, built in 1864-5. While not of the quality of his earlier church of Our Lady of Reconciliation, and built more cheaply in brick, it does share with that church the common features of solid walls, high lancet windows and apsidal east end. Despite the tone of economy, the church is notable for the quality and luxuriance of its internal stone carving. With the encouragement of Bishop Goss, E. W. Pugin designed a large and relatively uninterrupted space, allowing for maximum visibility. He built a number of such churches, providing dignified but economical churches for large and poor urban congregations. The baptistery of 1932 is a later addition of note.
Bishop Goss laid the foundation stone of E.W. Pugin’s church on 8 May 1864 (the Feast of the Apparition of St Michael), and opened the church on 24 September 1865. In 1881 the church was hit by a hurricane, and the resultant weakening of the roof led to its replacement. The Sacred Heart altar was added in 1892. About the same time stained glass windows were installed in the sanctuary and the walls of this area covered with paintings by Alan Hughes, a local artist (now lost or overpainted). In 1902 the foundation stones were laid for the sacristies and presbytery, both completed in 1904.
In 1932 the building was renovated, the baptistery added, and a new high altar and tabernacle provided, the altar in memory of Fr Michael Flynn, who served in the parish for nearly forty years.
The church was ‘built in 1865 at a cost of about £5000; measures 106 feet by 50 feet, in a Continental variety of the pointed style’ (John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales, 1870-2).
The church is built of red brick with stone dressings, under slate roofs. The main west front is dominated by a large rose window with polychrome banding to the arch, blind arcading and a central entrance below. Stepped buttresses at the corners; no tower. The church consists of a nave and aisles of six bays, lit by a clerestory of paired lancets, and with an open timber and boarded roof. The aisles are narrow, intended for circulation rather than seating, and the original circular windows of the south aisle are now blocked. The nave arcades have quatrefoil piers with alternating blocks of limestone and sandstone, with high-relief naturalistic carving of foliage at the base of the hood moulds. At the west end there is a choir and organ gallery carried on a wide depressed arch, now enclosed to form a narthex. The separation of the open sanctuary from the nave is marked by paired attached red porphyry columns, the capitals richly carved with naturalistic foliage, and supporting figures of archangels which in turn support an open timber archway. The lancet windows of the apse contain stained glass images of Saints Martin, Patrick, Joseph, Our Lady, The Annunciation, Peter, Paul, Elizabeth and Margaret. Between each paired lancet, resting on the string course are red porphyry piers, also with richly carved capitals. The walls of the sanctuary are lined with panelling in Danzig oak, by the Liverpool carver John Harris (O’Mahony). The high altar of 1932 is of white marble, with green and red onyx columns with opus sectile panels. The mensa has been brought forward to allow for westward celebration; on its frontal are opus sectile panels featuring the prayer of St Michael. The white marble altar rails appear to be contemporary with this. The fine marble Sacred Heart altar in the south chapel adjoining the sanctuary was added in 1892; its designer has not been established.
The octagonal baptistery was added in 1932. The Art Deco character of its narrow windows with their green and white glass and double cusped arches is redolent of the work of F. X. Velarde, although there is no known association. According to the 1932 guide, the design of the glass and the iron gates from the aisle evokes flowing water. There is a stained glass window showing the Baptism of Our Lord and a central marble font with cover, on a slender octagonal stem.
Entry amended by AHP 9.1.2021
Architect: E. W. Pugin
Original Date: 1865
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed