Building » Swanage – The Holy Spirit and St Edward

Swanage – The Holy Spirit and St Edward

Victoria Avenue, Swanage, Dorset

A representative example of the Gothic church output of (Canon) Alexander Scoles, who was prolific in the South Western dioceses between 1875 and 1920 and generally kept to the spirit of mid-Victorian medievalism and the Gothic style of around 1300. The church contains some fine paintings in the sanctuary by Francis Newbery.  

The church was built by the Canons Regular of the Lateran to house the Community and the Junior Seminary on its removal from Spetisbury, near Blandford. The order left Swanage and the Holy Spirit and St Edward became a parish church in 1984.


The list description, below, is brief but accurate. The church has the altar facing south but for the purposes of this description all references to compass points are taken as if the altar faced conventionally east. The church is tall and narrow and the five-light west window and door are of attenuated proportions. The nave has four windows to north and south, with a similar window to the south transept. The sanctuary has three-light north and south windows with ogee lights under a straight head, set in shallow projections with a pentice roof. The east wall has a blind window formed by a cross and a blind circular window above, incorporating a chalice and host in relief.

The interior has ashlar arches to the sanctuary and south transept with semi-octagonal responds and two orders, one chamfered and one moulded, and with moulded capitals. Canopied niches to either side of the sanctuary arch. The paintings mentioned in the list description date from 1926, painted by Francis Newbery (1853-1946) the celebrated Director of the Glasgow School of Art, who retired to Corfe Castle in 1917. The paintings in the sanctuary take the form of a triptych reredos with a canopy, and the painted scheme continues in a frieze around the three sides of the sanctuary and with painted ‘posts’ in the two corners. The triptych depicts Edward the Martyr, flanked by St Aldhelm and St Elgiva, whilst the painting on the underside of the canopy depicts the Blessed Sacrament being presented in heaven by the Holy Angels. The decorative frieze has an Art Nouveau character. The painting in the Lady Chapel (also under a canopy) depicts the Annunciation. Panelled, coved, west gallery. The font stands at the east end of the nave and comprises an octagonal stone bowl with reliefs set in quatrefoils encompassed by circles, on a cylindrical base of veined red marble with four colonnettes.

List description


Roman Catholic. Built 1904. Designed by Canon A Scoles. Purbeck Stone walls. Modern tiled roof. Nave chancel, west (liturgical south) transept. Open bell-cote over crossing. Built in a “Decorated” Gothic style. The “west” (the north) wall has a central arched doorway with a sculptured tympanum. Above this is a large traceried window. Two-light traceried windows to the nave. The interior has plastered walls. Canted plaster ceilings to nave and chancel, that to the nave with wood ribs. Paintings behind the high altar and chapel (transept) altar c1926. That behind the high altar depicts Saint Edward (of Corfe Castle). Purbeck Stone boundary walls to Victoria Avenue and Rempstone Road, with “rustic” capping. Modern iron gates.

Listing NGR: SZ0296579095

Heritage Details

Architect: A. J. C. Scoles

Original Date: 1904

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II