Building » Plymouth (Keyham) – Our Most Holy Redeemer

Plymouth (Keyham) – Our Most Holy Redeemer

Ocean Street, Keyham, Plymouth, Devon

A large late Gothic Revival church, originally built for naval personnel and their families. Burnt out in a 1941 air raid and subsequently restored, the church is something of a local landmark.  

The site was acquired by Bishop Graham and the naval chaplain for the purpose of building a permanent onshore church for navy personnel. The land belonged to the lord of the manor, Lord St Levan, who was then opening up the fields beyond Keyham Docks for development. The site was acquired for £1,000, and Lord St Levan’s agent, the architect Edward St Aubyn, gave further land valued at £624. The Admiralty, having insisted on a seating capacity of 500 in the new church, contributed £500 and agreed on an annual contribution towards maintenance and repairs.

Early plans were prepared by Edward St Aubyn, but he was soon overtaken as architect by (Canon) A. J. C. Scoles. Bishop Graham laid the foundation stone on 10 April 1901, and the church opened on 6 July 1902. A large presbytery for two priests was built at the same time; the builders were Messrs Jinkin & Son. In January 1906 a school was opened on the land behind the church, not without resistance from the Devonport education authority.

On 22 April 1941 the church was hit in an air raid and left a roofless burnt out shell. Services were held in the school until the restored and newly refurnished church opened in 1950. It was consecrated in April 1957.

In 1988 a major reordering involved the cutting down of the high altar to half its original size and bringing it forward to allow for westward celebration, removal of the main communion rails and the rail in front of the Sacred Heart chapel, relocation of the pulpit from the left to the right hand side of the sanctuary arch, relocation of the font from the baptistery to the left hand side of the sanctuary arch, removal of confessionals and conversion of former baptistery to a reconciliation room.


Large Gothic parish church with attached contemporary presbytery, both built of unevenly coarsed limestone with modern concrete tile roofs. Church consists of nave and aisles with square ended chancel with flanking chapels; no tower. Narrow central west doorway on sloping frontage at west end flanked by small lancets, three stepped trefoil leaded lancets and stepped gable above. Plate tracery to the windows at the west end of the flanking aisles. Plain flank elevations, with paired lancets to the each of the eight bays of the aisles and clerestory. Entrance in westernmost bay of north side, approached by steps; area railings also on this side. There is no external distinction between the nave and the chancel other than a closer spacing of windows for the latter. The presbytery lies attached to the east, and other than a Gothic arched doorway, is of a more domestic, astylar character.

Spacious interior with a nave of five bays, the arcades supported on octagonal piers. Groin vaulted plaster ceiling of 1950, replacing the previously-existing simpler canted timber ceiling. Western gallery with organ replacing that lost in the air raid, given by Buckfast Abbey and rebuilt here by the monks. Most of the internal furnishings belong to the 1950 restoration (as reordered in 1988, see above). The exceptions are the font, which appears to be original, and is now located by the chancel arch, and the altar in the Sacred Heart chapel to the north, given in 1913, both of which survived the air raid. Traditional stained glass over the altar, c1940. 1950 furnishings include the oak panelling lining the sanctuary walls, the fine marble and alabaster war memorial high altar and reredos, separated from one another and the former cut down and brought forward in 1988; marble pulpit (relocated in 1988), and marble Lady altar in south aisle. The polychrome crucifix on the east wall was given in memory of Leo Oakden, killed in the Plymouth blitz of 1941, but appears to be older. Woodblock floor and plain benches in the nave.

Heritage Details

Architect: A. J. C. Scoles

Original Date: 1902

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed