Sandon Road, Stafford, Staffordshire ST16
A post-war stripped Romanesque design by E. Bower Norris, incorporating some of the firm’s distinctive details, including a strong bell tower, good quality brickwork and a carefully designed interior with flat arcading. It retains some original fittings, including the high altar in a reordered sanctuary and nave pews.
St Patrick’s was built to serve the Catholic community of north Stafford, many of whom were Irish. The Rev. James O’Hanlon initiated a mission from St Austin’s in the 1880s; from 1884, a Mass centre was established in St Patrick’s School. The new mission was founded in 1893, with Fr O’Hanlon the first priest; two cottages on St Patrick’s Street were adapted for a presbytery. In 1895, a prefabricated corrugated iron church was built next to the school on St Patrick’s Street, costing £550. In the interwar years, the Rev. Daniel Kelly led the acquisition of a large new site, buying a plot of land between Marston Road and Sandon Road in 1921, next to Sheridan Hall. A presbytery was built in 1926 by the next priest, the Rev. Patrick McSwiney and a new primary school in 1930. The latter contained a hall fitted out for use as a temporary church, with fittings from the old church.
By 1950 over £10,000 had been raised towards a new church, for which the foundation stone was laid in 1951 by Archbishop Masterson. The new church was designed by E. Bower Norris of Sandy & Norris and the contractors were Sandy & Co.; the total cost was £3,200. It was formally opened on 11 June 1953 by Bishop Bright. The church was consecrated in 1966.
The church is aligned with the sanctuary to the northwest and the west gable end facing the road; in this description liturgical compass points will be used. The building is constructed in a buff brick laid in Flemish bond, with concrete details, steel windows and a tiled roof to the nave and flat roofs behind parapets to the side aisles and sacristies. The style is a stripped version of Italianate. The plan consists of a four-bay aisled nave, west narthex, gallery and east sanctuary under one roof, with a northwest tower. The sanctuary is expressed by a shallow projection to the east, and the east bay is side-lit by triple semi-circular-headed lancets. The west elevation is plain and flat with a recessed semi-circular-headed central doorway and a circular window and cross above, with no string courses or other decoration. The square tower has narrow recessed full-height panels containing lancets, an upper stage with arched belfry openings to each face, and deep eaves to the pyramidal roof. In the angle between the tower and the west front is a side porch with recessed square-headed doorway with a ramp. The aisles have flat roofs behind plain parapets and are lit by pairs of narrow tall arched windows, the nave has rectangular clerestory windows. The sanctuary has a plain shallow projection to the east to contain the high altar, with rebated corners and brick cross to the blind east face, side-lit by tall lancets. The sacristy is on the northeast corner, and forms the eastern element of a low single-storey projection (for confessionals) all with flat roofs and concrete mullioned windows.
The lofty interior is typical of post-war churches by this architect, with plain plastered walls above a brick dado and plain semi-circular arched arcades, with square columns and moulded capitals. The plaster ceiling is compartmentalised with a grid of recessed panels. The narrow narthex is separated from the nave by a plastered wall with three semi-circular headed arches; the central arch contains panelled double doors, with leaded glass to glazed arched windows either side. The gallery above is behind a full-height semi-circular open plastered arch, with plain balcony front. The floor of the nave and narthex are laid with herringbone parquet, with oak pews. The sanctuary is not separated from the nave spatially, but is expressed by a full-height recessed plastered arch containing the original reredos and segmental canopy. Reordered, the sanctuary has a forward altar in a plain timber design on a carpeted platform with matching sanctuary rails. The original marble high altar is retained against the east wall, on marble steps, with the tabernacle. The side altars are at the east ends of each aisle; the Lady altar has an oak panelled reredos with scrolled pediment. The Lady altar, high altar, steps and Stations of the Cross were gifts provided for the 1953 opening.
Architect: Sandy & Norris
Original Date: 1951
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed