Building » Salisbury – St Osmund

Salisbury – St Osmund

Exeter Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1

Salisbury was the place of A. W. Pugin’s reception into the Catholic Church in 1835. His church of St Osmund is strategically placed just outside the Cathedral Close and is the focus of a group which makes a significant contribution to the local conservation area. The church was enlarged and altered in a sympathetic manner in the 1890s by E. Doran Webb, another architect with local connections. Much of the original character of the building survives, with original and later furnishings of note, although there have been losses. 

After the Reformation, Catholicism in Salisbury was sustained principally by the Arundells of Wardour, with services held secretly at their house in the Cathedral Close. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Arundells left the Close and in 1811 a former inn in St Martin’s Lane, the World’s End Inn, was purchased for the local congregation and a small chapel built on part of the site. By the 1840s the number of Catholics was increasing and land was acquired in Exeter Street for the building of a new church. Most of the funding came from John Lambert, a solicitor, who later became mayor of Salisbury, a distinguished civil servant and a Privy Counsellor. He also purchased an adjoining house for use as a presbytery with the intention that the garden should become a burial ground. In the event, only a few burials took place, including that of Lambert himself. Apparently it was Lambert who commissioned designs for a church from his friend A. W. Pugin, who had been received into the Catholic Church at Salisbury in 1835, when living at nearby Alderbury, and who carried out some improvements to the chapel in St Martin’s Lane. The new church was dedicated to St Osmund, founder of Old Sarum, and lay just outside the Cathedral Close, within sight of the spire of the medieval cathedral. The church is an example of the kind of asymmetrical plan which Pugin adopted in the 1840s for several of his town churches, with a single aisle embracing a tower. The foundation stone was laid by Bishop Ullathorne, Vicar Apostolic of the Western District, on 8 April 1847, and the church was consecrated on 6 September 1848. 

The north aisle was added and the south aisle widened, with a remodelled arcade, in the 1890s by Edward Doran Webb, another local (Tisbury) Catholic architect. In 1895, The Tablet reported that ‘The chapel of Our Lady in St Osmund’s Church has been further beautified by the erection of a magnificent reredos and of a canopy over the statue of the Madonna. The screen in front consists of old oak work supposed to have belonged to a church in the neighbourhood some 300 years ago. The canopy above is also carved in oak after the plan of the Rev. D. G. Hubert, priest of the mission, the work having been skilfully executed by Mr W. M. Batt. The pinnacles and crockets are gilded, and the ground work is blue, to correspond with the other portions of the altar, which is now rendered complete’. This screen is no more, and neither are Pugin’s oak rood screen and stone pulpit. A forward altar (first a timber one and later a stone one) has been placed on a new platform at the east end of the nave. The font has been relocated from the baptistery to a position in the north aisle nearer the sanctuary. The chancel walls were whitewashed in the 1960s but in the 1980s were repainted along the lines of the original scheme. Stained glass commemorating England and Welsh martyrs was installed in the north aisle in 1982.


The list entry (below) is brief. St Osmund’s has a rather plain exterior, in fourteenth-century Decorated Gothic style. The plan comprises a nave and chancel with north and south aisles all under pitched roofs and a southwest tower incorporating the entrance porch. The walls are faced with coursed flint with stone dressings, the main roofs are covered with Welsh slate. The west wall of the nave fronting the street has a large four-light traceried window. It is flanked on the south side by the southwest tower, which has a pointed entrance door in the west face, two-light traceried windows on each face of the belfry stage and a pyramidal red tile roof. On the north side is the slightly-projecting gable wall of Webb’s north aisle, which has a pointed doorway with a small rose window above. On the north side of the church the aisle has six two-light quatrefoil windows; the eastern bay is set slightly forward and has a flushwork parapet. There is no nave clerestory. On the south side the aisle has five two-light windows with a doorway and a chimney stack towards the eastern end.  Attached to the east end of the south aisle is a sacristy with a hipped tiled roof. The east gable wall of the chancel has a three-light traceried window.

The interior has north and south arcades of similar pattern. Pointed chamfered arches are carried on short stone clustered columns with stiff-leaf capitals. Early photographs show that the south arcade originally had cylindrical columns with simple moulded capitals, so Webb must have replaced both arcades in the 1890s, which suggests a substantial rebuilding. The interior walls are plastered, with some painted decoration. Both nave and aisles have open timber rafter roofs; the nave roof is cross-braced, while the aisle roofs have collars. Both aisles have pointed arches at their eastern end. The south aisle arch opens to a small Lady Chapel. The pointed chancel arch is offset to the south, perhaps to allow for a stone pulpit which was originally placed under the image niche to the north of the arch. The chancel has a panelled ceiling enriched with painted decoration, stencilled decoration to the dado (re-created in the 1980s) and a floor of encaustic tiles. On the south side is an arched opening to the Lady Chapel, a door to the sacristy and a triple sedilia with a triple opening above; on the north side is an arched opening to the organ chamber and a two-light window. 

The chancel floor has been extended into the nave with a timber platform carrying a modern stone altar. The original oak rood screen and stone pulpit have both been lost. The octagonal stone font has been moved to the east end of the north aisle. Other fittings of interest include Pugin’s stone high altar and Lady Chapel altar. Stained glass in the chancel and south aisle is largely by Hardman from Pugin’s designs, c.1848. The east window depicts St Osmund flanked by St Thomas of Canterbury and St Martin, the north window St Peter and St Paul and the south window the Annunciation. In the south aisle, various saints and an ex-voto window given by Pugin in 1850. Later work by Mayer of Munich includes the west window (Baptism of Christ), one window in the south aisle (St Edward the Confessor and St George, 1894) and the round window in the north chapel (Lamb of God and cherubs, 1895). In the north aisle is a memorial window to John Lambert of the 1890s, by Hardman. The glass in the north aisle, commemorating English and Welsh martyrs, dates from 1982. The Stations of the Cross are of 1925. The nave benches appear to be those shown on late nineteenth-century photographs and are probably original.

List description


1847-48 by Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Coursed flint with stone dressings. South west tower with pyramid slate roof. Large gable over nave, slate roof. The north aisle with lower gable an addition of 1894 by D Webb. Interior arcades with foliate capitals low. Altar in south chapel by Pugin, elaborate font, with fleur-de-lys in quatrefoils. Stained glass: east and 2 south windows by Pugin, made by Hardman of Birmingham one of south windows inscribed “ex voto” by Pugin, dated 1850.

Nos 90 to 92 (consec) St Osmund’s Church & School and Nos 95 & 96 form a group.

Listing NGR: SU1455529498



No 95 is of C16 origin timber frame refronted late C18 for 2 houses. 2 storeys red brick front. 1st floor string course. Gable end old tile roof. Moulded eaves cornice carried over slightly projecting central bay with pediment. Symmetrical fenestration. 5 windows 1st floor, 4 on ground floor, sashes recessed no glazing bars. Central recessed 6 Panel door with semi-circular radial glazed fanlight. Arched panelled reveal with doorcase of narrow pilasters, carved scrolled brackets supporting broken moulded dentil cornice and open pediment. Panels to reveals have delicate cross reeding to edges.

Interior retains part of original roof structure: north end of 3 bays with principles, collars, clasped purlins and tie beams projecting just below 1st
floor ceiling level; hollow chamfer to south end tie beam and ogee moulded finish. 2 similar bays and trusses to south. On ground floor a room with C18 panelling throughout.

No 96 is also of Cl6 origin refaced in later C18. 2 storeys red brick on stucco plinth. Gable end old tile roof, moulded eaves cornice. 3 windows 1st
floor flush architrave framed sashes, glazing bars intact. 2 windows ground floor also flush framed but of different heights, sashes it panes wide. Central entrance: recessed door of 4 fielded panels in architrave surround and detached cornice pediment over.

Interior retains part of timber framing, posts, wattle filling to some original partition walls. Ground floor front room has large fireplace with cambered chamfered bressumer with stone jambs.

Nos 90 to 92 (consec) St Osmund’s Church & School & Nos 95 & 96 form a group.



Probably contemporary with the 1894 addition of the north aisle of the church. Parallel building to church with gable end to street. Coursed flint rubble and stone dressings. Saddlestone surmounted by cross. Gable end has full height slightly projecting bay of 4 lights double transomed and mullioned. Quatrefoil over in gable. Lean to with entrance on south side.

Nos 90 to 92 (consec), Osmund’s Church & School & Nos 95 to 96 form a group.

Listing NGR: SU1451629268

Convent and primary school


The Convent house is C18 altered circa 1800. 3 storeys colourwashed brick with projecting stone bands between storeys. Moulded stone cornice and blocking course. Gable end slate roof. 2 tripartite sash windows flanking central single window on upper floors and 2 tripartite sashes flanking entrances on ground floor. All have glazing bars intact. Central door of 6 fielded panels with radiating semi-circular fanlight under good Doric porch of columns and wall pilasters, entablature with large dentilled cornice and moulded dentil open curved pediment hood. 2 storey extension of one bay with old tile roof to left, one flush framed sash each floor, 4 panes wide. 2 storey early to mid C19 painted brick south wing with hipped slate roof, tripartite sashes, one each floor and projecting rendered section also with hipped slate roof. To left and projecting level with street a 2 storey red brick chapel block on rendered plinth, mid C19. Brick band between storeys with fleur-de-lis ornament returned to south gable end. Hipped slate roof with bracketed eaves. 3 pointed sash windows to both floors facing street, rendered arches. South gable end has similar windows, one on 1st
floor and ground floor right. In centre a pointed arched door also with rendered arch.

St Osmund’s School adjoins to north. Circa 1890 related to St Osmund’s Church qv. A 2 storey block of flint and ashlar blocks. Ashlar quoins (possible reuse of older material). Moulded string over ground floor windows. Hipped tile roof. Ashlar chimney stacks over eaves. 4 windows to both floors, stone mullioned and transomed of 3 and 2 lights. To rear a single storey with dormers in similar style.

Listing NGR: SU1450929217

Heritage Details

Architect: A. W. Pugin; E. Doran Webb

Original Date: 1848

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II