Beoley Road West, Redditch, Worcestershire B98
A late Georgian sandstone design, built not long after Catholic Emancipation, from designs by the Gothic Revival pioneer Thomas Rickman – his only work for the Catholic Church, and delightfully ‘unarchaeological’. The church underwent unsympathetic reordering after the Second Vatican Council, but recent changes have sought to reinstate more of its historic character.
The Sheldon family maintained a mission from the sixteenth century, first at Beoley and then, from 1783, at Chapel Farm, Heath Green. The mission at Redditch began in 1834. Land for the present church was given by the Dowager Lady Catherine Smythe and the major contributor to the cost of the building was Fr Bruno Tunstall, a native of the town. The foundation stone was laid on 11 February 1833 and the church opened on 24 April the following year. The architect was Thomas Rickman, a pioneer of the Gothic Revival. This is his only Catholic church, and, as noted in the list description, has more in common with contemporary Commissioners’ Anglican churches than with Rickman’s more archaeologically accurate work (or for that matter with contemporary Catholic churches). From its opening the church was served by priests from Downside Abbey, until 1948-68 when it was in the care of the Abbey of St Michael and the Angels, Belmont, Hereford. Since 1968 it has been served by diocesan priests. The church was repaired and redecorated by Hardman of Birmingham in 1872. The interior underwent a series of alterations in the 1970s and early 1980s, culminating in a major reordering in 1984. A major loss was that of the rood screen. The most recent refurbishment, under Rodney Melville and Partners of Leamington Spa (job architect Stephen Oliver) in 2012 (reopened 26 March), took steps to restore the layout to reflect the original design, and a number of earlier features were returned to the church. The church is due to be consecrated on 26 July 2014. There are plans to install the altar and reredos from the closed Pugin church at Cotton, Staffordshire; this will be under the direction of Stephen Oliver (now practising as Oliver Architecture Ltd).
The list description (see below) gives comprehensive details of the church and repetition is unnecessary. The following can be mentioned in addition:
Church. 1834 by Thomas Rickman with mid-C20 alterations and additions. Sandstone ashlar, partly stuccoed; slate roofs with bracketed eaves and gable-end parapets with kneelers. West tower with open porch, four-bay nave with transepts, two-bay chancel. No dominant style but Early English and Perpendicular influence. West tower: two stages with strings; buttresses with offsets, angled at west corners; west, north and south elevations have tall pointed arches of two chamfered orders with hood moulds leading into open porch with quadripartite vault; above archways is a rose window in the west elevation and a narrow rectangular opening in the side elevations; intermediate string forms sill string to bell chamber openings; these openings are large, rectangular and hollow chamfered with a mullion and transom dividing them into four cusped ogee-arched louvred lights; above is an embattled parapet with corner pinnacles. Nave: chamfered plinth and moulded plinth band; buttresses with offsets at bay divisions, angled at west and transept ends; west end has two lancets flanking tower; within porch is a pointed doorway with a square head and blind tracery in the spandrels (all largely restored); windows in side elevations are all cusped lancets beneath square heads; 4-centred archway with double doors at west end of north elevation. Single-bay transepts also have cusped lancets beneath square heads in their west elevations (that in the south transept is blind); south transept gable end has three lancets grouped beneath a pointed head and a louvred opening above in the apex; both transepts have C20 single-storey additions to their west side elevations with gable-end parapets above rectangular lights and doors in their outer side elevations. Chancel: angled buttresses with offsets at east end; 3-light east window with sill string and louvred opening above in apex; rose window in each side elevation; the north side rose window and the north end and east side of the north transept are obscured by a later addition (not of special architectural interest); door with cambered head in south elevation of chancel.
Interior: plastered throughout with painted decoration. At west end of nave is a 4-centred archway of two chamfered orders, the inner of which is supported on corbels; the jambs of the archway are pierced with a lower rectangular opening and upper cusped lancets. Chancel and transepts have plaster quasi- vaulting with thin ribs and large bosses. Nave has truncated queen strut trusses with trefoil detailing. Windows all have hood moulds with returns. Gallery at west end with blind cusped pointed arcading.
This modest and simply detailed church is of particular interest in that it has more in common with the contemporary Commissioners type of churches than with the more archaeologically accurate examples of Rickman’s work (BoE, p 248).
Listing NGR: SP0475467475
Architect: Thomas Rickman
Original Date: 1834
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II