Building » Tarporley – St Thomas Becket

Tarporley – St Thomas Becket

Nantwich Road/Eaton Road, Tarporley, Cheshire

A simple, practical church converted in 1941 from a cafe and largely rebuilt in 1971.

Mass was first said in Tarporley in 1884 by Fr Lynch, who travelled from Chester. From 1906 a room above a grocer’s shop at 53 High Street was used. Communion and confirmation classes were held at the shop-owner’s home, and Mass said there once a month, in a room later used as a cheese loft. In 1937 the Salvatorian Fathers took over,  and  a  semi-detached  house  on  Nantwich  Road  became  a  chapel-cum- presbytery.

The history of the current church began in 1941 when Fr Clement Mercer purchased the Oak Tree Cafe and its adjoining house on Nantwich Road for £1,800. The cafe was converted into a chapel and club room and formally opened on 21 September 1941. The Salvatorians handed back the parish to the Diocese of Shrewsbury in 1946. The club room was dismantled and the church rebuilt to designs of Jack Edmondson in 1971. A triptych and canopy designed by F. X. Velarde for the old church at Bromborough (qv) were installed in the church (Plumb, p.22), but have since been removed.

The church is orientated with the chancel to the north, but for this description this will be referred to as the liturgical east end. The building is of brick construction, rendered and plain painted externally, with a pitched slate roof and catslide roof to the north aisle. It is five bays long, expressed on the north elevation externally by modern uPVC windows to the aisle, a full-height four-pane window to the recessed sanctuary bay, and an entrance bay at the west end. The east elevation is blind with a crucifixion on the wall. The south elevation has a recessed sanctuary bay, a flat- roofed sacristy and office with a single window, and fire exit access. The church is attached to the presbytery at its west end.

Inside, there is a small entrance porch at the west end. The main space comprises a nave, north aisle and raised sanctuary, the last of these lit on both sides by large windows. The ceiling is faced with stained pine tongue-and-groove boarding, the floor has a modern carpet covering and the walls are plastered and painted, except at the east end where walls are fair-faced brick. Two structural steel joists are exposed to the roof. The windows have clear glazing, and there is a modern etched glass screen to the sacristy, to the south. The sanctuary contains an oak altar (bought for the church by American GIs at the end of the Second World War) and lectern, with a crucifix on the blind east wall. The statue of Our Lady is a memorial to the Goulding family who owned the shop at 53 High Street.   Seating is provided by basic oak benches, probably installed during the period of rebuilding in 1971. The organ also dates from the 1970s alterations.

Heritage Details

Architect: Jack Edmondson (1971)

Original Date: 1941

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed