Portsmouth Road, Woolston, Southampton, Hampshire
W.C. Mangan’s last church in the diocese, with a moderne Gothic character rather than the basilican style he favoured elsewhere. The design is not without character and is in the mainstream of brick church building around middle of the twentieth century.
The Woolston mission dates from 1879 and Mass was said in a tin chapel in Obelisk Road from about 1880 until the building of a permanent church-cum-school on the present site in 1883 to designs by Leonard Stokes, one of his first commissions. A few years later Stokes altered and enlarged St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Bugle Street, Southampton. Stokes’ building was demolished in 1969. The present church was erected in 1938-9 but was gutted by an incendiary bomb the following year. Restoration took place only in 1948-50. The architect was W.C. Mangan of Preston. It is not clear whether the rebuilding was to the design of 1938-9 or whether changes were made.
Red brick, of broad nave with steeply pitched tiled roof, sanctuary and liturgical west tower (the church faces north). The tower is broader than it is deep and has a bold vertical motif of triangular fins with stone bands, set either side of a large rectangular window. Cross above and other decorative brick detailing giving a castellated effect, repeated in polygonal turrets to either side of the tower. Projecting west porch. The style evidently derives from the last flowering of Gothic by such architects as Giles Gilbert Scott but also owes much to commercial architecture of the 1930s, quite different from Mangan’s generally favoured Early Christian style. Projecting porch in front of the tower. boundary wall and railings in a similar style. The side elevations of the church have tall and thin square-headed windows set in recessed brick panels. The liturgical east wall has an immense projecting brick cross.
The interior is undivided and rather lacking in any spiritual atmosphere, with its tired paintwork and modern upholstered chairs. The roof is canted and the trusses encased in plywood sheeting painted in vivid colours, red, orange, yellow, green and blue. The only fittings of merit are a large timber baldachinno over the high altar, side altars with arched reredos with tiled pictures of saints and unusual Stations of the Cross, opaque glass set as stained glass panels.
Architect: Wilfrid C Mangan of Preston
Original Date: 1939
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed