Building » Stoke-on-Trent (Hanley) – Sacred Heart

Stoke-on-Trent (Hanley) – Sacred Heart

Jasper Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent ST1

A large and handsome late nineteenth century church, set among a dense grid of streets near the centre of Hanley.  It has a fine interior of considerable quality and lavishness. The church, substantial presbytery and a former school building (now the parish centre) fill the whole of a street block and constitute a major presence in the area.

Only four Hanley Catholics are mentioned in returns for 1657, and nine in 1767. In 1854 the Rev. Thomas Leith of Cobridge was ordered to concentrate his efforts here as the numbers of Catholics had swelled to between 1,000 and 2,000. At its foundation in the 1850s the Hanley mission was said to be the poorest parish in north Staffordshire. By the end of the nineteenth century Catholic numbers had increased to some 3,300.

In 1857 the priest at Cobridge bought land in Lower Foundry Street where in 1860 the church of St Mary and St Patrick, designed by Ward & Son of Hanley and seating 400 people, was opened by the Rev. William Molloy, the first resident priest. In the meantime the Cobridge priest had occasionally been saying Mass in a loft over Bath & Poole’s carriage works opposite, entrance to which was via a ladder. The presbytery, however, was built on land between Jasper Street and Regent Street where it was intended to build a new church, but the poverty of the mission delayed this work for some thirty years. Finally in 1889-91 the present church of the Sacred Heart was built, and on a grand scale. The foundation stone was laid on 1 August 1889 and it opened on 22 September 1891; consecration took place in 1911. Built in a Gothic style of brick with stone dressings, the church has a clerestoried nave, wide aisles, an apsidal chancel, and a west turret with a bell. The original architect was H.V. Krolow of St Helen’s and Liverpool, but after his resignation the work was taken over by R. Scrivener & Sons of Hanley (architects of Hanley Town Hall). The church in Lower Foundry Street continued in occasional use until its sale in about 1940; by 1960 it had become a warehouse.

Despite the separation of Birches Head and Abbey Hulton in 1923, Sacred Heart parish had a population of some 4,500 in 1929. With the resettlement of many Hanley people in new parts of the city after the last war the number dropped considerably.

The recent list description (below) describes the building in considerable depth, and repetition of the details is unnecessary. It is worth noting that the interior is little altered, retaining (for example) its fine marble altar rails. The elaborate marble pulpit is a work of 1927 by the well-known carvers Boulton & Sons of Cheltenham. The war memorial window depicting the Crucifixion in the north aisle dates from 1949 and is the work of Hardmans of Birmingham.

List description

Summary of Building: A Roman Catholic church of 1889-91 by H.V. Krolow and Robert Scrivener & Sons, with attached boundary wall. The attached Presbytery is not of special interest.

Reasons for Designation: The Church of the Sacred Heart, Hanley, constructed in 1889-91, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: *Architectural: it is an assured example of late-C19 Catholic Gothic Revival architecture, built of quality materials and with bold and well-realised features, by architects of some note; *Intactness: The church survives in a remarkable state of intactness, both externally and internally; *Interior/ Artistic: The interior fittings are lavish, of high quality and contemporaneous: *Historical: the church has played a significant role in Hanley’s Catholic community since it opened in 1891, and provides evidence of the strength of that community.

History: The conurbation of Stoke-on-Trent was formed in the early C20 from six small towns that had grown significantly during the C18 industrial boom that created The Potteries. Following Catholic Emancipation in the late C18, Catholicism was re-established in north Staffordshire, and grew more extensively from the mid-C19, with the creation of missions and chapels in a number of towns. The first Catholic Church in Hanley, the largest of the Pottery towns, was that of St Mary and St Patrick, designed and built by Messrs. Ward of Hanley and opened in 1860 in Lower Foundry Street. The presbytery, however, was built on land between Regent Road and Jasper Street, a site that was proposed for a further church, when funds permitted. This church was to be the Church of the Sacred Heart, and the foundation stone was laid in July 1889 [1 August according to the Diocesan Directory, 1913 – GB] by Bishop Ilsley. An opening ceremony, conducted by the Bishop, was held on 22nd September 1891. The church was not consecrated until 1911, a year after Hanley’s incorporation within the newly created Stoke-on-Trent. This was probably due to the length of time it had taken to pay off the debts accrued by the construction costs and the lavish fitting-out of the building. The church was originally designed by H.V. Krolow of St. Helen’s and Liverpool, and completed by the local practice Robert Scrivener and Sons (a partnership run by Robert’s sons, A. & E. E. Scrivener). Sacred Heart devotion was popular in late-C19 Catholicism, particularly in Stoke where there was a large Catholic population, partly created by the influx of industrial workers to the Potteries from Ireland. The presbytery is shown on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1879 (1st Edition), while the Map of 1900 (2nd Edition) shows the church and an L-plan school on the south end of the plot. The footprint of the church has not changed since this time, although the presbytery was extended to the north-west with a single-storey addition in the later C20. The buildings remain in ecclesiastical/community use.

Details: MATERIALS: red brick with stone dressings and fenestration, under clay tile roofs. PLAN: the church is laid out with a main, rectangular nave, and an apsidal chancel to the east. There are north and south aisles. At the west end is a gallery. A sacristy is attached to the south flank of the church via a brick passage. EXTERIOR: the west front faces Jasper Street and is an imposing, wide, three-bay elevation. The central bay is the tall gable end of the nave with stone banding and a prominent first-floor, pointed-arched window with circular tracery enclosing a cinquefoil, and a row of lancet windows below. The steeply-pitched gable of the projecting porch, with its finial, breaks through the lancets. The porch contains a double doorway set within a heavy, recessed door surround with nook-shafts, and stone towers to either side. The tympanum holds a relief figure of Christ revealing the Sacred Heart within a trefoil headed niche, and a roundel to each side. The bays to either side are of lower height with pyramidal roofs and have brick buttresses with stone offsets. The ground-floor windows are pointed-arched with stopped hood moulds and keyed architraves; there are blank lancet arcades above. To the right of the central doorway is a brick tower with stone banding, slit openings to three floors and an arcaded stone spire above. The flank elevations of the two corner buttressed bays have similar pointed-arched windows with blank arcades above. The north flank has a porch to the baptistry. The south flank has a pointed-arched window with no arcade above. North and south aisles are attached with four traceried windows each, separated by buttresses. The nave elevations above have four sets of paired windows, with stopped moulds, at clerestorey level. The north and south transepts each have a large central window with sexfoil, and blank arcade and brick cross details in the gable ends. The corner buttresses have stone offsets. The chapels and apsidal chancel at the east end are of lower height with stone dressings to the windows. The apse has slender buttresses to each corner and above the attached chapel roofs. Many of the roof gables carry a cross finial. The sacristy is a plainly-detailed, single-storey building that adjoins the nave by a brick passage. A low red brick wall with stone copings and decorative stone pier caps lines Jasper Street and Downey Street. The railings have been removed. INTERIOR: the rectangular, aisled nave has two-bay stone arcades, comprising three columns to each side with stiff leaf capitals in various designs, some incorporating sunflowers. Colonnettes rise to clerestorey level and stone corbels support the timber vaulted roof trusses. At the east end the chancel and chapels are richly decorated. The gilded altar and reredos rear of the chancel are of stone with statuary, and have mosaic decoration with colourful painted biblical scenes in relief, framed by an arcade, above. To the centre, a Christ figure stands within a niche under a heavy surround, below a tall gilt tower in the Gothic style. The upper walls and ceiling of the apse have decorative tiling and gilding. At the front of the chancel is a carved marble altar rail, with a stone and marble pulpit to the right. The pulpit has rich mosaic detailing and stands on truncated marble columns. To the right of the pulpit, behind the south chapel, is an organ, the pipes standing above the chapel’s mosaic-tiled and gilded altar. Both chapels have marble fittings, including altar rails, reredos with biblical depictions, and stencilled walls. The baptistry in the west end of the north aisle has a carved stone font on a plinth and stands behind iron railings. Framed, pictorial, Stations of the Cross line the walls of the nave, above a tiled dado, interrupted by a number of pointed-arched doorways. The doors are of oak. Late-C19 pews are arranged in regular straight lines. Above the west end of the nave is a gallery with a carved oak balustrade, supported by oak brackets. Below the gallery are double oak doors and oak partitioning. The windows throughout the church have coloured panes, and those in the apse and north chapel have figurative stained glass. The floors are decoratively tiled.

Selected Sources: Kelly, BW, Historical notes on English Catholic Missions, 1907;; Greenslade, M, A Brief History of the Catholic Church in Stoke-On-Trent , 1960, pp. 26-27;

Heritage Details

Architect: H. V. Krolow, then R. Scrivener & Sons

Original Date: 1891

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II