College Road, Upholland, Skelmersdale WN8
A fine church of the 1950’s by F.X. Velarde, one of the most unusual and innovative Catholic architects of the twentieth century. Basilican in plan, and displaying some of the architect’s favourite motifs, such as superimposed round arches to the belfry stage of the tower and gold mosaic applied to the columns of the nave arcade. The quality of the decoration and fitting out is particularly high, and includes work by the Liverpool sculptor Herbert Tyson Smith, who worked with Velarde at St Monica’s Bootle.
Formerly part of the parish of St James. Orrell, a separate parish was created in 1955 and the present church (although designed as early as 1952) built from 1955-7. It is described fairly fully in the list entry, below. One feature not mentioned is the large mosaic of St Francis in an arched recess in the tower area, by the Hardman firm.
Parish church and attached parish room and vestry. Designed 1952 by Francis Xavier Velarde and built 1955-7. Sculpture carved by Herbert Tyson Smith. Brown brick with ashlar dressings and plain tile roofs. Nave with Galilee porch and single east aisle, detached north-east tower and chancel. South or ritual west front is blank with single storey Galilee porch and above single circular window, and to east aisle a pair of round headed windows with carved stone mullion between. Nave east front has doorway to left with double doors and cusped head with ashlar tympanum, beyond blank aisle wall with plain projecting buttresses topped with carved figures. Above pairs of round headed clerestory windows with carved mullions. To right short passage links to the square tower with further doorway with double doors, cusped head and carved tympanum. Tower has single circular window to south face. East face has stone carved pieta under curved hood. All faces have small diamond shaped windows to stairs. Ashlar top stage has 3 rows of 2 round arched bell openings to each face topped by a large pyramidal copper roof with gilded cross. Chancel has triple arched window with carved mullions to aisle and above 2 pairs of similar round arched windows with carved mullions. Ritual east end has blank shallow curved wall. Parish room and vestry attached to north-west corner with to south 4 arched windows to each floor with carved mullions. In the corner a tall square chimney stack. Nave west front has 5 full height battered buttresses with ashlar caps. Ground floor has 4 pairs of round arched windows with carved mullions and above 5 single round arched windows.
INTERIOR has 5 arched nave arcade to east with circular gold mosaic piers with painted capitals and black mosaic bases. Arcade has round brick arches. Chancel has 2 plain brick arches. Nave and aisle have wooden roofs with gilded diamond patterning. Contemporary wooden pews and pulpit. 3 steps to raised chancel with metal altar rail and stone altar table with carved and gilded circular piers, painted reredos with opening doors. Glazed screen to former Galilee porch now converted to side chapel. Baptistry at base of tower has stone carved cubic font with carved front. Included as a very fine surviving work by one of the leading Roman Catholic architects of the twentieth century.
Architect: F. X. Velarde
Original Date: 1955
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II