Building » Birmingham (Selly Park) – St Edward

Birmingham (Selly Park) – St Edward

Raddlebarn Road, Selly Park, Birmingham B29

An imposing early twentieth century Gothic Revival suburban church designed by H. T. Sandy and G. B. Cox. The building was erected in three phases as funds became available, but the Gothic style and detailing is consistent, with good-quality finishes, fittings and furnishings. Reordering has been sensitive and the sanctuary retains the 1920s high altar and reredos.

Selly Park was developed as an affluent suburb in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, taking its name from the Selly Hall estate. Selly Hall was acquired for Catholic use and in 1864 by the Sisters of Charity of St Paul the Apostle and local Catholics were able to attend Mass in the chapel. A separate mission was established in 1889, whereupon Mass was initially said in temporary premises, including a converted coach house on Upland Road, until a new combined  school and chapel was built in 1895 by the Rev. Matthias O‚ÄôRourke.

In 1900 the Rev. James Keating embarked on building an ambitious new church and H. T. Sandy of Stafford was commissioned to prepare plans. The church was built in three phases, with the nave completed in 1902; the contractor was William Bishop of Kings Heath. In 1926 the sanctuary and side chapels were added, from designs by G. B. Cox of Harrison & Cox (builder John Bowen & Sons, Balsall Heath), with funding from Chevalier Edward Augustus Olivieri KSG. The western bay, incorporating narthex and gallery, side porches and baptistery followed in 1936, also from designs by G. B. Cox.

In the 1950s pine pews replaced the original rush-seated chairs. Murals were added over the high altar reredos and statues of St John Fisher and St Thomas More were placed in the sanctuary niches. The sanctuary was reordered in 1989, when the sanctuary rails were removed but the high altar retained.

This is the only church in the diocese dedicated to St Edward the Confessor.


The large church is aligned with the sanctuary to the southwest, but in this account liturgical compass points will be used and the sanctuary will be referred to as the east end. The plan consists of a western narthex bay with side porches, five-bay aisled nave, half-octagonal sanctuary and sacristies and confessionals to the north. The building is faced in red brick with stone dressings, and the steeply pitched roof is laid with Westmorland slates with coped verges. Rainwater goods are cast iron, and the windows have leaded glazing. Although the church was built in three phases between 1902 and 1936, it is unified by the consistent use of the Gothic Revival detailing, with Decorated tracery to all the windows. The 1926 west end is flanked by gabled side porches. The west doorway is set in a moulded stone pointed arch, with foliate capitals to the attached columns. The right-hand west doorway, formerly leading into the baptistery, now has a ramped access. Over the central door is a Gothic canopied niche with a statue of St Edward, and a rose window to the gable. The five-bay lean-to aisles have triple cusped lancets and stepped buttresses, the clerestory has two-light pointed windows. The 1936 sanctuary is expressed by its apsidal form, with two-light pointed windows and stepped buttresses. The gabled side chapels of the same phase have similar windows.

The interior is entered via the narthex at the west end, with a ceramic tiled floor and concrete stairs to the gallery; oak part-glazed double doors lead into the nave. The spacious and lofty nave has an exposed six-bay roof with arch-braced trusses. The pointed arcades have stone octagonal piers, with the walls above articulated into bays by intermediate vertical mouldings rising from foliate corbels. In the aisles, the spandrels in the bay divisions are pierced with oculi. The nave floor is terrazzo with woodblocks below the pews, which are pine. The west gallery over the narthex has a plain plastered front, and is dominated by a large 1960s pipe organ. To the east, a carved and painted timber rood hangs from the full-width pointed chancel arch. The sanctuary has a ribbed timber ceiling, with eight carved and painted heraldic shields around the walls at eaves level. Good-quality sanctuary fittings include the marble high altar and oak Gothic reredos, with niches containing statues of Saints Edward, Chad, Wulstan and Richard of Droitwich. Above this, painted murals of the 1950s. Marble floor and steps (below carpet). The plain forward altar dates from 1989. The side chapels each have a marble altar of 1927 and the northeast Sacred Heart chapel has a marble and oak reredos, with cusped stone arch above. Other fittings include an octagonal marble font (relocated from the baptistery to the east end of the nave) and carved wooden statues of St Edward and St Joseph, bought from Oberammergau in 1910. The church has some good stained glass including a window by Hardman in the north aisle, to the memory of Ruth Sturges, a donor of the church, dated 1913. The sacristy has pine fittings.

Heritage Details

Architect: H. T. Sandy and G. B. Cox

Original Date: 1902

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed