Gartons Lane, Sutton Manor, St Helens WA9
An ambitious neo-Romanesque design of the 1930s, completed in diluted form in the 1950s. The original stonework is of high quality.
The church was begun in 1930. The Archdiocesan Directory attributes the design to W. & J. B. Ellis, but the original designs, for a very elaborate building with a dome, were in fact prepared by J. Sydney Brocklesby, who had designed the equally elaborate church of St Oswald and St Edmund Arrowsmith, Ashton-in-Makerfield (qv). He did not oversee the construction, possibly on account of a scandal in his private life, and the design was part-executed without architectural supervision by the Howe brothers, who had been the masons at Ashton. Building ceased in 1932 for lack of money, by which time the aisle walls had been built and the stone columns for the nave arcades put in place. The building was completed by W. & J. B. Ellis & Partners in 1953, to a much simplified design.
The plan of comprises an aisled nave, with the aisles continued as an ambulatory round the apsidal east end. The liturgical west end and aisle walls are in rock-faced sandstone with dressed stone for the window surrounds. The clerestorey walls are faced in red brick, the roof coverings not visible from ground level. The earlier stoned-faced parts of the building are in a full-blooded Romanesque style.
The west end of the nave has a 1950s brick porch and a single small round window, the wall rising to a shallow gable with a bold corbel table. The west ends of the notably broad aisles and flat-roofed aisles have two round-headed Romanesque windows with nook shafts and billet moulding with a similar corbel table at the wall-head which is continued on the lateral walls and round the east end. The western bay of the aisles on both sides has a small apsidal projection with round-headed windows and a more elaborate corbel table with chevron moulding above. The side elevations of the aisles have round-headed Romanesque windows, with a Romanesque door opening towards the western end of the liturgical north side. The nave clerestorey has ten regularly-spaced round-headed windows each side, and the clerestorey is continued without a break around the eastern apse with five similar windows.
The interior is basilican, with a wide nave flanked by closely-spaced stone columns with Romanesque style cushion capitals, beyond which are narrow passage aisles. The walls of the passage aisles are faced with bare dressed stone and pierced by various Romanesque openings to confessionals and sacristies. The nave columns carry the post-war walls of the tall clerestorey, which rise to a shallow-pitched roof with timber cross-plates. At the west end of the nave is a modern timber gallery, underbuilt to provide a draught lobby. At the east end the nave columns continue round the apse where emphasis is given only by the altar canopy and the stained glass in the east window. All the other windows are clear glazed. Behind the nave columns at the east end of the south side is a substantial south chapel reached though a splendidly-carved Romanesque arcade with chevron mouldings, now glazed in. The moveable fittings are of less interest than the architectural decoration.
Architect: J. S. Brocklesby; W. & J. B. Ellis & Partners
Original Date: 1930
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed