Silver Street, Lyme Regis, Dorset
A fine early Gothic Revival church by a noted provincial architect. Good group of church and attached presbytery (attributed to A. W. Pugin) set in an attractive garden.
Mrs Bellingham, widow of Alan Bellingham of County Louth in Ireland, settled in Lyme Regis in 1830-31, with her son and three daughters and arranged for a priest to say Mass in the town. On the death of her son she gave £100 to start a building fund and the Revd Charles Louis Fisher, newly-appointed to Axminster in 1834, came to live at Lyme, purchased the present site in February 1835 and began building the church, from designs by H. E. Goodridge of Bath. Financial difficulties delayed the opening until 1837. The presbytery was built in 1838-9, from designs by A. W. N. Pugin (says Dr Rory O’Donnell, pers. comm. with Andrew Derrick, September 2009). A three-storey school building was erected in 1840, later reduced to a single storey building. The high altar was erected in 1844 to designs by George Goldie and the Lady Chapel was added in 1851. A tall spire appears in Goodridge’s design but the present, shorter, spire was erected in 1855 and rebuilt in 1936.
The church faces approximately west but for the purposes of this description all reference to compass points is on the basis that the altar faces east. The list description (below) is not entirely accurate. The church comprises an aisleless nave and sanctuary with a Lady Chapel to the north. The three-light east and west windows are of three stepped lancets with shafts both externally and internally. The ‘rose window’ is rather a small circular window enclosing a six-sided star of two equilateral triangles. The church is rendered, with stone dressings, apart from the 1851 Lady Chapel which is of coursed limestone with sandstone dressings. It has a two-light window with plate tracery to the north and two lancets to the west.
The interior shows the influence of Salisbury Cathedral with its (plaster) rib vault, window shafts and blind tripartite windows to either side of the sanctuary. Sadly the interior has lost much of its former richness of decoration. Set into the walls of the nave are papier mache Stations of the Cross, installed in 1851. The ninth and tenth Stations were damaged and replaced in 1992. The painting and gilding of the reredos mentioned in the list description was regrettably destroyed in 1972. The Gothic stone reredos remains with blank panels. Gothic arcading on the stone altar. Matching Gothic piscinae in the south wall. Timber west gallery. Stained glass of good quality in many windows, decorative geometrical patterns in the nave south windows; the east window, 1883 by Westlake, Lavers & Co. Lady Chapel windows of varying dates and quality. Fine sanctuary lamp. Elaborately decorated neo-Norman stone font of octagonal drum on a circular base. Four brass tablets in the Lady Chapel, one, to Monique, widow of Alan Bellingham Gray, 1856, signed John Hardman & Co.
List description (church and presbytery)
Foundation stone laid in 1835. Gothic style. Nave and chancel, octagonal belfry, presbytery, Rendered; Ham stone dressings. Nave of 3 bays, each with single-light lancet window and each flanked by a buttress. Entrance in north-east facing end which is gabled and flanked to either side by octagonal buttresses on square bases. 3-light lancet window above gabled porch; rose window above. Inside, chancel arch; low altar screen with pointed arched in stone; fine painted and gilded reredos. Connected to the north-west side of the chancel is the belfry tower; small octagonal room at base with lancet-headed niches (some opened up to form windows and doors). Exterior of belfry tower has to north-east facing side a tall single- light window with a trefoil opening above; octagonal spire.
Presbytery to north-west; 2-storey; gabled porch with cusped bargeboard to left hand, incorporating within it a wide pointed fanlight with tracery; initialled plaque above, and, above this, single-light ogee window. At right hand end, and breaking forward, a wide gabled bay with a 3-light casement on 1st and ground floors.
The Little Place and the north-east boundary wall, Rosehill and the garden wall, Burley, the 0ld Vicarage, the former stable block and the garden wall to Burley and Old Vicarage, West Hill and the garden wall, together with the Roman Catholic Church of St Michael and St George, and the Dorset Hotel, Pound Road form a group.
Listing NGR: SY3376092290
Architect: H. E. Goodridge
Original Date: 1837
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II*