Warwick Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37
A relatively small church Gothic church of the 1860s by E. W. Pugin, whose buildings are often more flamboyant. The interior is contrived to appear longer than it is in fact by the use of narrow arcades. The west end was completely rebuilt in the 1950s, with altered detailing and a new narthex. Most of the original fittings survive. The building is prominent in the local conservation area.
Stratford was originally under the pastoral care of Benedictines based at Wootton Hall, who bought land in the town on which to build a church. In 1852 a diocesan priest, Alfred John Dayman, was appointed to take charge of the new mission. He left five years later and in 1859 the mission was handed back to the Benedictines, who have served ever since. Stratford remains an important parish belonging to Douai Abbey.
The present church was on a prominent but then largely rural corner site in 1865-6. It was designed by E. W. Pugin, built by William Moss of Loughborough and opened and blessed by Bishop Ullathorne on 23 October 1866. Money for the building (the final cost of which was just over £2,000) was raised by local subscription; many of the fittings were paid for by individual donors and some were designed by E. W. Pugin.
The presbytery is built partly of stone and partly of yellow brick. Apparently the stone part next to the church was built in 1889 from designs by G. H. Cox and was later enlarged in brick, though both parts look earlier than 1889.
In 1905 the church interior was decorated with stencil decoration by the Pippet brothers of Solihull. This was overpainted in 1957 in the redecoration that followed the rebuilding of the west end of the church, which had become unstable. The west end was rebuilt to a different Gothic design than Pugin’s, and included the addition of a narthex (Architects Healing & Overbury of Cheltenham).
In 1966, in its centenary year, the church was consecrated by Archbishop Dwyer. The sanctuary was reordered and the altar brought forward in 1979.
St Gregory’s church is designed in the Decorated style of the late thirteenth century. The external walls are faced with blue Wilmcote Stone with dressings of Corsham Down Bath Stone. The roofs are covered with natural slate. The plan comprises a tall nave with lean-to aisles and an apsidal sanctuary, together with the rectangular western narthex added in 1957.
The flat-roofed narthex is set between the western buttresses of the nave and has a pointed doorway. Above the narthex in the steeply-gabled west end wall of the nave is a three-light traceried window (Pugin’s original west wall had a rose window) with a niche over bearing a statue of St Gregory by Fr William (Aloysius) Bloor OSB. The head of the gable terminates in a stone bellcote, simpler in design than Pugin’s. The north and south aisles are both of eight bays divided by buttresses. The six central bays have triplets of thin pointed windows; the end bays are narrower and have different fenestration. There is no clerestory. Above the penultimate eastern bays are transeptal dormers in the nave roof with rose windows. The canted sides of the sanctuary each have three trefoiled lancet windows.
The interior has seven-bay nave arcades with narrow pointed moulded arches carried on stone columns with octagonal capitals. Above the arcades is a tall boarded rafter roof with arched timber principals brought down onto timber wall posts between the nave arches. At the west end of the nave is a modern (1957) organ gallery. The aisles have timber lean-to roofs with raking struts. There is no structural chancel arch. The junction between nave and chancel is marked by the gabled dormers in the nave roof and by more elaborate boarding of the timber roof, which was originally decorated but is now plain painted. The carved stonework throughout the church is by Boulton of Worcester who also carved the high altar (reconfigured in 1979) and the reredos with its carved figures. Presumably Boultons also carved the two side altars. The metal altar rails are by Hardman. Most of the stained glass is attributed to Tony Drury of Warwick, apart from one window in the north aisle which is probably by Hardman.
Architect: E. W. Pugin
Original Date: 1866
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed