Overbury Street, Toxteth, Liverpool 7
An important church dating from the mid-nineteenth century by a major architect, and built on an ambitious scale. It has a noble and well-proportioned interior, high quality architectural carvings, and several good furnishings. With the large late nineteenth-century presbytery it comprises a good group of historic buildings, originally amongst terraced houses.
The church of St Anne was commenced by the Benedictines from Downside in 1843, but later passed on to Ampleforth. In has been owned by the Archdiocese of Liverpool since 1952. Its grand proportions reflect the wealth and size of the local population in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1910 Burke wrote (Catholic History of Liverpool, pp 80-1): ‘it was built on a well-chosen site, then without the borough of Liverpool, it now stands in the centre of a teeming mass of poor people, the extensions of the city having driven out the better-class Catholics to more suburban parts of the ever-growing city’.
The church was commenced in 1843 to the design of Charles Hansom. His church consisted of a tall nave with aisles, a clerestory with quatrefoil lights and a truncated west tower, to which Hansom had intended to add a spire (abandoned due to fears of subsidence). In 1888-9 Pugin & Pugin added the equally grand apsidal chancel, transepts and crossing. They took out Hansom’s rood screen, which went to Easingwold in North Yorkshire. In 1893 Peter Paul Pugin added the baptistery at the west end of the north aisle. The tower was never completed and therefore the intended spire not built.
See also list descriptions, below. Hansom’s church is built of rough-faced red sandstone in the Decorated style, its most prominent external feature the truncated west tower.
The interior is of noble proportions with a fine open roof of arched braced trusses resting on wall piers with angel corbels. The tall stone arcades have quatrefoil columns and moulded bases, all in accordance with Puginian and Ecclesiological principles. Below the tower is a porch. The pews are not fixed and date from the late nineteenth century.
The crossing rests on stone arches and has a timber vaulted ceiling, whilst the apsidal chancel has two levels of arcading that continue the line of openings through to the flanking chapels and the organ loft. It is an accomplished and spatially impressive composition.
Post-Vatican II reordering involved the removal of a baldacchino and the creation of a nave altar. The elaborate Gothic choir stalls with angel finials have been truncated, but their fronts are placed to each side of the sanctuary, which is contained by a fine marble and alabaster altar rail. The high altar is of painted stone. In the Benedictine chapel is a stone altar with a depiction of the Eucharist, carved in 1892. The baptistery is no longer in use for baptisms, and has been converted into a link space leading to the house. It contains oak clergy stalls, presumably from the sanctuary. The presbytery is impressively scaled and retains its Gothic pine staircase, doors and doorcases, and tiled floors.
Entry amended by AHP 13.01.2021
Catholic church. 1845-6, Hansom. Chancel and transepts. of 1888-9, Pugin and Pugin. Stone with slate roof. 6-bay nave with lean to aisles; west tower, transepts and 3-bay chancel with apse. Tower has angle buttresses, octagonal south east stair turret; west entrance of 4 orders has 4-light window with ogival hood supporting canopied niche above. Bell stage has paired 2-light louvred bell openings. Tracery is Geometrical in style. Aisles have 2 light windows and 3-light west windows. Clerestory windows are pointed arches with quatrefoils. Transepts have 2-light
west windows and 5-light north and south windows. Interior: Nave has arcades on quatrefoil piers and arch-braced roof on wall piers with angel corbels. Chancel has timber vault with ridge light. Apse has gabled arcading and gabled reredos. Arcades to organ loft and south chapel are 2 columns deep. Listing NGR: SJ3670190019
Presbytery. Probably 1888-9. Pugin and Pugin. Rock faced stone with ashlar dressings, slate roof. 3 storeys with attic, 3 bays; 1st bay projects under gable with one bay return. Weathered sill bands and top cornice. Cross windows, and 1st bay 2-storey canted oriel with projecting window above and 2 light pointed window in gable. 2 timber roof dormers. Enclosed porch with pierced parapet. Entrance has 4 centred head with 3 light fanlight and flanking cross windows. Right return has buttresses with canopied niches and end stack, 2-storey connecting block with canted oriel and projecting baptistry with straight-headed window of 3 lights with reticulated tracery joins this item to St Anne’s church (q.v.). Listing NGR: SJ3667490039
Memorial to W. Linford (died 1849) and A. Linford (died 1855). Stone. A. Murphy. In form of octagonal pillar on plinth with niche with nodding ogee canopy. 2 figures corbelled out at top, probably the Virgin and St. John. Probably had iron crucifix at top. Listing NGR: SJ3666490006
Architect: Charles Hansom; Pugin & Pugin
Original Date: 1843
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II