Salisbury Street, Shaftesbury, Dorset
A well-crafted and consistently detailed late Gothic-style church by a West Country architect best known for the Birmingham Oratory.
Prior to the return of Catholic priests to Shaftesbury the town’s Catholics were served from Marnhull. In 1895 a group of French Benedictines from Marnhull purchased Belmont House in Christy’s Lane (now the Royal Chase Hotel). In 1898 the Order was closed down and subsequently Belmont was purchased by French priests of the Sons of Mary Immaculate. Mass continued to be said at Belmont until the present church was built. In 1907 three cottages at nos. 49-53 Salisbury Street were purchased. Edward Doran Webb, architect of Salisbury, was appointed on the recommendation of Lady Arundel of nearby Wardour Castle. Lady Arundel also contributed significantly to the building fund. The foundation stone was laid in 1909 and the church was opened for worship the following year, having cost £2,850. The tower was not completed until 1925 and a carillon of bells was installed in 1928. A presbytery was built in the 1920s but this was more recently sold when an opportunity arose to purchase No. 55 Salisbury Street which was combined with No.53 to form the present presbytery. No. 51 Salisbury Street was demolished to make way for the building of the church and No. 49 was subsequently sold. In 1994 a church extension/hall was added in the form of an aisle, designed by Philip Proctor.
The church faces northeast but all references in this section will refer to liturgically correct compass points, i.e. the altar faces east.
The list description (below) is brief but accurate. The tower stands over the liturgical south transept; it has short pinnacles (the centre one to the east appears to be missing), two-light bell-openings to each face and an engaged southwest stair projection not rising to the full height of the tower. There is a three-light south window to the south transept below, matching that for the north transept. The 1994 extension is built of stone with a lean-to tiled roof that continues the slope of the main roof and also embraces the north transept. It has roof lights and contemporary-style fenestration. The original external north wall of the church is left exposed within the extension. The extension also links the church to the presbytery which itself has a brick-built rear extension. The sanctuary has a flat-arched two-light window to north and south and a three-light east window. Decorated crosses on the four gables. Sacristy projection on the south side of the sanctuary. A plain square stair projection with hipped roof is on the right of the west front and imparts an informal, domestic, character.
The interior appears tall and narrow, an effect created by the absence of aisles, the placing of the nave windows high up (because of adjacent buildings) and the transept arches partly closing off those spaces when viewed from the west end of the nave. The nave has stone wall shafts, as if for a stone vault, but these awkwardly carry smaller timber shafts which support the timber and plaster barrel vault. The sanctuary has a timber barrel vault without wall shafts. Tall sanctuary arch of two orders with moulded capitals. The transept arches have simple double chamfers dying into the imposts. The transepts are of unequal depth, that to the south has a gallery with stone balustrade with quatrefoil panels. Sacristy below. Each transept forms a chapel, with stone altars with statues on brackets above. The north transept has double doors opening into the 1994 hall which can be used as an extension to the church. Coved west organ gallery with a stone screen below forming a narthex. Good quality stone fittings, altar, of alabaster on a base of Ashburnham stone, reredos (designed by Doran Webb and costing £125) with carved figures of Saints Aldhelm, Boniface, Edward, George and Michael. Canopy or ciborium over. Communion rail with sunk quatrefoils, similar to the gallery balustrade in the south transept. Ambo with quatrefoil panels and wooden tester. Octagonal stone font with blind tracery as three-light windows to alternate sides. Stone statue of Christ in a niche adjacent to the south respond of the sanctuary arch. Stations of the Cross, carved in Tisbury stone, by Peter Watts (1916-2002). They are reminiscent of the work of Eric Gill (Watts had been assistant to Philip Lindsey Clark, a friend of Gill) and are of good quality. The east window has stained glass, a ‘meditation on the Christian journey’, 1999 by Henry Haig.
Dedicated on 21 September 1910. Architect, E Doran Webb of Salisbury, Ashlar [Tisbury stone]. Perpendicular style. Nave, chancel, transepts with tower over north-west transept. Entrance has doorway with pointed arch, carved spandrels, with dripmould over. Above, one 3-light window, each light with cinquefoil head; dripstone over. Windows in nave of 3 lights with trefoil heads, Tower with castellated parapet.
Nos 47, 49, Roman Catholic Church of St Edward the Martyr, Nos 53 to 59 (odd) and Old Sarum form a group.
Listing NGR: ST8665022794
Architect: E. Doran Webb
Original Date: 1910
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II