Building » Maidenhead – St Joseph

Maidenhead – St Joseph

Cookham Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire

Leonard Stokes’s original design for St Joseph’s, which involved a crossing tower and larger transepts, was never completed. His nave dates from 1884 and is a good, imaginative Decorated piece and has an unusual octagonal porch. His northeast tower and east end of 1913-14 are to a new design. The tower makes much attractive use of interplaying flint, brick and stone, and has an Arts & Crafts character. An extension at the west end of the nave, dating from 1965, presents a very prominent face of the building when approaching from the town, and has done little to enhance its appearance. The interior detailing is interesting and original. The east end makes much use of marble and alabaster to create an atmosphere of restrained beauty.

A mission was established in Maidenhead by William Wilberforce, son of the anti-slavery campaigner of the same name. Wilberforce junior purchased the ancient manor house at St Ives Place, where he set up his chapel. The first priest was appointed in 1867. In 1871 a Catholic school was started and the schoolroom here was used as a chapel.

In 1879 the present site was acquired for a church and the young Leonard Stokes was instructed to prepare designs. Stokes (1858-1925) was a highly talented Catholic architect who undertook many commissions for the Church. He was articled to S.J. Nicoll in 1874. He went on to spend time in the offices of James Gandy, G.E. Street, J.P. St Aubyn and T.E. Collcutt and commenced independent practice in London in January 1880. He was Pugin Student in 1880 and travelled in Germany in 1881 and Italy in 1882. St Joseph’s is one of his earliest works (the Sacred Heart, Exeter, 1881-6, was begun before St Joseph’s). With J.F. Bentley he was one of the most innovative architects working for the Catholic Church in the last two decades of the nineteenth century.

The church was built between August and December 1884 at a cost of £3,018 (The Universe says £6,025 for the church, school and presbytery). The sanctuary, sacristy, transepts, and tower were added to new designs by Stokes in 1913-14.

In 1963 planning permission was gained to extend the west end to designs by Max G. Cross of Geens Cross & Sims of Bournemouth. The work was completed in 1965 (builders: Halfacre & Young). In 1985 the present parish centre, designed by Daniel Lelliott Krauze, was opened, the old presbytery having been demolished and a new house built. Major repairs were carried out to the west end in 2004-6.


The church is oriented north so all directions stated here are ritual.

The church is cruciform with a northeast tower over the north transept. It has an octagonal north porch and square east end. It is in a free Decorated style under red, plain tile roofs, and is faced with flint and red brick and stone dressings. There is no clerestory. The nave windows are of two lights and have varied Decorated tracery. The east wall is blind and has horizontal flint and freestone bands, and a large freestone cross. The tower is a prominent feature, built in three stages, with a top stage with twinned two-light Decorated windows and featuring brick and freestone vertical strips. Behind the parapet is a leaded spirelet. The south windows of the south transept and the side walls of the sanctuary all have three-light Decorated windows: the north transept window is of four-lights. A confessional is placed to the east of the north porch. The original five-bay nave was been extended by a bay in 1965 which has contemporary detailing, notably a large five-light window with plain mullions and a wide strip of artificial stone some one-third of the way up from the base. Above the arched head of this window is further glazing up to the apex of the roof. A large south porch and repository was added at the same time.

Inside the walls are bare red brick, enlivened by freestone details in the window arches and in bands both below and between the windows. A very individual feature is the pairs of brick wall-shafts between each bay of the nave and which rise to pairs of arch braces in the roof. The nave has a wood-block floor. The chancel arch rises from plain brickwork jambs and has four orders of brickwork in the head and a freestone label. The east wall has an arch over a recessed plane of brickwork. The sanctuary floor has wooden blocks of different kinds of wood.

Extensive use is made of green marble (Creffolino, Sienna and Chelasto) and alabaster to adorn the east end: it is used in the sanctuary screen, sanctuary dado, and the raised pulpit. There is a prominent reredos with three canopied niches with saints either side of the central canopy over the tabernacle. The font, moved to its present position near the north transept in 2000, is dated 1914: it was by then a somewhat old-fashioned, Victorian design: octagonal with carvings on the bowl and supported by a green marble quatrefoil shaft. The benches in the nave appear to date from 1884 and have ends with trefoiled heads and rounded elbows.

Stained glass: there is extensive stained glass in the church but none of it dates from before 1900. By Hardman: the north transept, north sanctuary, and the three nave north windows (+1903 to 1915). By (possibly) Mayer: sanctuary southwest (+1915). By (possibly) Jones & Willis: south transept (+1912). By Wilfrid Hill, Bedford Park, London: the three nave south windows (west one signed) (+1907 -+1915).

Entry amended by AHP 26.12.2020

List description [Note: the orientation given here is incorrect, e.g. the tower is geographically west/liturgically north]


1884-1913. L Stokes, architect. Decorated gothic style. Built of flint and red brick with stone dressings and a tile roof. Nave, south-west porch, south tower, chancel. Tower has 2 two-light bell opening and a battlemented parapet.

Listing NGR: SU8884881662

Heritage Details

Architect: Leonard Stokes

Original Date: 1884

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II