Woodstock Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2
Image copyright Alex Ramsay
A small Arts and Crafts chapel (designed as a hall to serve a future church) by Ernest Newton, one of his few non-domestic buildings, and his only Catholic church commission. The benefactor was Charles Robertson, a convert to Catholicism, who had employed Newton on other projects. The little chapel was originally intended to be the hall, once a larger church had been built. The interior is largely unaltered.
The mission was founded by Catholic convert, Charles Robertson KSG, who was also an important benefactor of the Servite Order in Begbroke, Oxfordshire. He acquired the land, and paid for the construction and furnishing of the church. It was built in 1911–12 from designs by the Arts and Crafts architect Ernest Newton which were described at the time as being ‘Flemish Renaissance’ in style. (Newton had also designed additions (1910) to Robertson’s nearby house called Apsley Paddox (now known as Field House), as well as designing buildings and alterations for the Servites at Begbroke (funded by Robertson).)
The church was opened and blessed by the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Birmingham on 14 April 1912 (Low Sunday). A larger site beside the church (the current car park and garden) was reserved for an intended larger church, at which point the current church was to become a hall. This never happened. In 1927, the adjoining presbytery was built by a local builder without the involvement of an architect. In 1949 an L-plan parish hall was built behind the church, requiring the demolition of the original sacristies. Possibly around the same time, a small confessional extension was built on the liturgical south side.
In 2008-10, the sanctuary was restored. This included mainly the painting of the reredos (originally covered in Spanish leather, later replaced by wallpaper) with images of the patron saints, as well as a predella painted with ten saints (artist: James Gillick).
The church is described in the list entry (see below). The following comments include some corrections, following conventional liturgical orientation (the church actually faces northeast).
Private R.C. chapel. 1910-11, by Ernest Newton for Apsley Paddox, an adjacent house. Rendered brick and Cumberland slate roof with gabled ends. PLAN: Nave with gallery at west end over a narthex entered on the south side. Later in the C20 a large extension, probably parish rooms, was built at the east end. EXTERIOR: East gable-end has 4-light ground floor window and large 6-light gallery window with segmental arch head with tile hoodmould and cill and with diamond shaped brick ventilator and small stone cross on gable. 4-light north and south side windows. All windows have leaded panes. On the west end of the south side porch with splayed ashlar sides corbelled at top and supporting the canopy roof simple boarded double doors with leaded lights. Wooden and lead-clad octagonal cupola on ridge near east end. Later C20 extension at east end. INTERIOR: Remarkably complete with fine simple joinery. Plaster tunnel-vault ceiling with moulded tie-beams and wall plate. Panelled and glazed screen under gallery at west end with tall wooden balustrade above. At east end a baldacchino with panels of Spanish leather and carved wooden canopy. Wooden Communion rail and sedilia.
SOURCES: Newton, W.G., The work of Ernest Newton . Gray, A.S., Edwardian Architecture, p.273. Buildings of England, p.332. Service, A., Edwardian Architecture, p.206.
Listing NGR: SP5021809601
Architect: Ernest Newton
Original Date: 1912
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II