Balance Street, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire ST14
An early church by A. W. N. Pugin, built with the support of the Earl of Shrewsbury, and of historical importance in the Catholic and Gothic Revivals, described by Pugin as England’s first post-Reformation Catholic church built ‘in strict accordance with the rules of ancient ecclesiastical architecture’. The building has been greatly altered and enlarged, but elements of the original building survive, in situ or in some cases repositioned. The later additions, by P. P. Pugin and Henry Sandy, are of some architectural quality and interest in their own right. The church contains good stained glass by Paul Woodroffe, Mayer and others. With the attached presbytery (also by Pugin, but altered and extended) it forms part of a group which makes a notable contribution to the Uttoxeter Conservation Area.
Mass was celebrated in rooms at local inns during the early nineteenth century, and plans for building a church were initiated in 1835 by the Rev. George Morgan. The Earl of Shrewsbury was a principal benefactor and A. W. N. Pugin was chosen as the architect. The building was one of Pugin’s first churches, and was described and illustrated by him (not quite as built) in The Present State of Ecclesiastical Architecture in England (1843). Drawings for the presbytery were prepared by Pugin in 1839.
The church was extended in an early work by Pugin’s son Peter Paul, in a phase completed in 1879 (builder Mr Gee of Stafford). The chancel was extended, a (liturgical) northeast Lady Chapel added and a west choir gallery installed. It appears that A. W. N. Pugin’s original sedilia and high altar were reused in the new chancel.
In 1901 a Caen stone and marble pulpit was installed, in memory of Miss Annie Hawthorne. The church was extended again in 1912-13 by the architect Henry Sandy. Sandy added aisles and a narthex, converted the Lady Chapel to an organ chamber and created a new southeast Lady Chapel. Pugin’s Easter sepulchre was moved and employed as a reredos in the chapel and fitted with a mosaic. The presbytery was extended as part of the same campaign of work. Since that time various alterations have taken place including a reordering in 1998-9 when altar rails were removed and a new forward altar installed.
All orientations given are liturgical. The church is an early work by A. W. N. Pugin of 1838-9, with a chancel and northeast organ chamber by P. P. Pugin (1879) and narthex, aisles and southeast Lady Chapel by Henry Sandy (1912-13). The building is of brick with stone dressings except for the narthex, which is of stone. The single-storey narthex extends across the west front of the church with a central gable with window below it and ranges lit by smaller windows on each side, all in a free Gothic style. Above is a gable containing a rose window, topped with a gabled stone bellcote. These and the upper nave walls are part of the original building of 1838-9. The tracery of the aisle windows is of broadly Decorated inspiration. The chancel, also of brick, has stepped lancets said to be the originals from A. W. Pugin’s church, reset when the building was extended in 1879. Beneath the lancets there is a roundel with arms and the date 1879.
Inside, the narthex is divided from the main body of the building by a screen of three unequal arches, with doors and glazing probably of twentieth century date. The nave roof is scissor-braced with some gilding. It is similar to the roof shown in Pugin’s Present State illustration and is probably original. Aisle roofs are also scissor braced. The northeast organ chamber is concealed from the aisle by a modern screen and divided from the chancel by an unusual arrangement of two tiers of arches supported by large cylindrical piers with polygonal caps. The elements are not strictly historicist but create a powerful, primitive appearance of Romanesque flavour. The Lady Chapel on the southeast side is separated from the aisle by low timber rails and from the chancel by an ornate stone arcaded screen with columns and traceried side openings decorated with accomplished naturalistic carving of stiff leaf type. The Lady Chapel altar is surmounted by a scalloped arch, which originated as Pugin’s Easter sepulchre, with mouldings matching those of the sedilia. It is filled with a mosaic of early twentieth century date depicting the Annunciation, said to be the work of Italian craftsmen. The reredos is flanked by stone corbels supporting figures of angels bearing candlesticks, almost certainly part of the original rood designed by A. W. N. Pugin. There is a Caen stone and marble Gothic pulpit with carved figures on the southeast side of the chancel arch, installed in 1901. A painted Crucifixion hanging within the chancel arch is of unknown origin but could be the work of A. W. N. Pugin and is similar to the rood figure shown in his illustration of the chancel. There are three stone sedilia with detached shafts and cusped moulded heads on the south side. These are similar to those shown by Pugin and are probably the originals, repositioned by P. P. Pugin. The altar has inset quatrefoils and vesicas with mouldings and decoration including a central Crucifixion. This is the original altar but the reredos is probably a later addition.
There is good stained glass, including several early twentieth century windows by Paul Woodroffe. The east windows have glass by Mayer of Munich of c.1887. Glass in the rose window at the west end is said to be of 1839 by William Wailes, but is not typical of his work. Glass in the Lady Chapel (1988) is by Hardman Studios, as is an earlier (1940) window in the north aisle.
List description (the church and presbytery were listed Grade II in 2016, following Taking Stock)
Roman Catholic church and presbytery of 1838-39 by AWN Pugin; alterations and additions by PP Pugin and H Sandy in 1879 and 1912-13 respectively, and reordering in 1998-99.
Reasons for designation: The Roman Catholic Church of St Mary, presbytery and gate piers, built in 1838-39 by AWN Pugin, with alterations and additions in 1879 and 1912-13 and internal reordering in 1998-99, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architects: one of the earliest churches designed by the pioneering architect and designer of the Gothic Revival in England, and his drawings of both buildings survive; * Architectural interest: the two buildings and the later gate piers form a well-detailed and balanced composition; * Intactness: the later additions and alterations are fairly well-conceived, and do not greatly diminish the special interest of either the church or the presbytery; * Furnishings: these are of good quality, dating from different phases of the building’s development, and include well-executed stone carving and a wealth of stained glass by good makers.
History: During the early C19 Mass was celebrated at Uttoxeter in local inns and plans for building a church in the town were initiated in 1835 by the Rev. George Morgan. Augustus Welby Pugin was chosen as the architect and John Talbot, 16th Earl of Shrewsbury, who subsequently commissioned Pugin to design the Gothic tour de force St Giles’ Church (Grade I) in Cheadle, was the principal benefactor. St Mary’s, one of Pugin’s earliest designs, was built in 1838-39 and was said by the architect to be the first post-Reformation Catholic church to be built in England ‘in strict accordance with the rules of ancient ecclesiastical architecture’, and as envisaged by Pugin it had all the features needed for celebration of Catholic ritual. Pugin also prepared the drawings in 1839 for a presbytery on the east side of the church. By the late 1870’s St Mary’s had become too small for the congregation and was extended by Pugin’s son, Peter Paul, in 1879. The chancel was extended, a (liturgical) north-east Lady Chapel (now the organ chamber) added, and a choir gallery installed. The three lancet windows were moved to the end of the chancel and stained glass installed. It appears that AWN Pugin’s original sedilia and high altar were reused in the new chancel. In 1912 thought was given to enlarging the church again, a task made difficult due to the very narrow building resulting from the 1870s changes. The church was extended again in 1912-13 by the architect Henry Sandy. Aisles and a narthex were added, the Lady Chapel was converted to an organ chamber, a new south-east Lady Chapel was built and the choir gallery was taken down. Pugin’s Easter sepulchre was moved and reused as a reredos in the chapel and fitted with a mosaic. The two angels on pedestals which originally supported the rood beam were repositioned to either side of the sepulchre. The presbytery was extended as part of the same campaign of work. Some reordering was carried out in 1998-99 when the altar rails were removed and a forward altar installed. Sometime between 1883 and 1901 a school for boys and girls was built in the grounds to the south of the church. It ceased to be a school by the mid-C20, was extended in the late C20, and is now the parish hall.
Details: Roman Catholic church and presbytery of 1838-39 by AWN Pugin; alterations and additions by PP Pugin and H Sandy in 1879 and 1912-13 respectively, and reordering in 1998-99. MATERIALS: both church and presbytery are constructed of red brick; the narthex is of cut and squared sandstone, all with sandstone dressings under plain tiled roofs with stone coping. The window tracery is broadly Decorated in style. PLAN: the church is roughly rectangular on plan and built on a sloping site. It consists of a nave, chancel, aisles, Lady Chapel, organ chamber, sacristy and narthex. The attached L-shaped presbytery is to the east. To the rear (south), is a detached parish hall, formerly a school, which was built sometime between 1883 and 1901 and is not included in the listing. EXTERIOR: the single-storey narthex, built in a freestyle Gothic, extends across the west front of the church and is divided into three bays by pilasters. The central three-light window sits below a gable with a niche with a statute of Our Lady to the apex; the outer bays have two smaller windows and the left return has three, all with trefoil heads and in square-arched surrounds. The right return has a doorway with a two-centred arch. The gable end of the nave has a rose window with an oculus above, topped by a gabled stone bellcote; the ends of the aisles each have an oculus. The south aisle is of five bays, divided by buttresses, with a plinth, stringcourse level and parapet. Each bay has a two-centred arched window, except the Lady Chapel which has two windows. The chancel east window has three, plain stepped lancets, said to be from Pugin’s original church and reset when the building was extended in 1879. Beneath the window is a roundel with arms and the date 1879. The sacristy to the right is of one storey with a basement and has a canted corner. There are two windows of three lights to both floors. The east (liturgical) end of the organ chamber (formerly the Lady Chapel) has a large quatrefoil window. The PRESBYTERY is of two storeys and an attic, built of brick with dressings of stone and vitrified blue brick under a steeply-pitched roof. It has a tall stack, stone coping and kneelers. The roadside (north) elevation is gabled with a two-storey canted bay. There is a stone mullioned window in an Arts and Crafts style to each floor, a brick parapet, and an oculus in the gable apex which is part of Pugin’s original design. To the right, where the building links to the church, is a two-centred arched entrance with hoodmould and labels and a wooden door with decorative strap hinges. To the far left is a two-storey, flat-roofed addition of 1912-13 which includes a first-floor window with a heavy, round-arched surround with a carved trefoil to the head. It matches one of the windows shown on Pugin’s plans of the house and appears to have been re-sited here when the bay windows were added. The rear elevation has a modern glazed lean-to, a first-floor window of three lights and an oculus to the gable of the main house. The rear range has an inserted uPVC window to the ground floor and a two-light window with stone surround above; there is a single-storey lean-to against the south wall. INTERIOR: the narthex of the CHURCH is divided from the main body of the building by a screen of three unequal arches, with doors and glazing probably of late-C20 date. The nave has an arcade of four bays carried on octagonal piers with a clerestory window above each arch. The roof is scissor-braced with some gilding. The 1901 pulpit is of Caen stone and marble with carved figures. The tall chancel arch is carried by moulded capitals, short stone shafts and fluted corbels. A painted Crucifixion hanging in the arch is of unknown origin but could be the work of Pugin. There are three stone sedilia with detached shafts and cusped-moulded heads on the south side; these are probably the originals, repositioned by Peter Paul Pugin. The altar has inset quatrefoils and vesicas with mouldings and decoration. This is the original altar but the reredos is probably later. The chancel roof is boarded and gilded; the aisle roofs are scissor braced. The north-east organ chamber is concealed from the aisle by a modern screen and divided from the chancel by an arrangement of two tiers of semi-circular arches supported by cylindrical piers with polygonal caps. At the west end of the north aisle is a quatrefoil-shaped, stone font set on compound piers with delicate foliate carving and a timber cover. The Lady Chapel on the south-east side is separated from the aisle by a C20 low timber rail and from the chancel by a stone arcaded screen with marble columns and traceried side openings decorated with naturalistic carving of stiff-leaf type. The Lady Chapel altar is surmounted by a scalloped arch, which originated as Pugin’s Easter sepulchre, with mouldings matching those of the sedilia. It is filled with a mosaic of early-C20 date depicting the Annunciation, said to be the work of Italian craftsmen. The reredos is flanked by stone corbels supporting figures of angels bearing candles, probably part of the Pugin’s original rood. Stained glass: several early-C20 windows by Paul Woodroffe; east window by Mayer of Munich of circa 1887; rose window said to be of 1839 by William Wailes, but not typical of his work; Lady Chapel windows (1988) by Hardman Studios, as is an earlier (1940) window in the north aisle. The PRESBYTERY was not inspected internally (2015). SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the GATE PIERS on the west side of the church date from 1912-13. They are of cut and squared sandstone with stone plinths and gabled stone tops with fleur-de-lys profile to the ridge. Each pier has a carved rosette to the upper part. To the front of the presbytery is a low brick boundary wall with stone capping and metal railings, and with pedestrian gates to either end.
Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the parish hall and the garage to the rear of the church are not of special architectural or historic interest.
Books and journals: Atterbury, P, Wainwright, C, Pugin A Gothic Passion, (1994); Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire, (1974), 290; Rosemary, Hill, God’s Architect; Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain, (2007), 518; Scarisbrick, JJ, History of the Diocese of Birmingham 1850-2000, (2008), 177; Hill, R, ‘Pugin’s Small Houses’ in Architectural History, , Vol. 46, (2003), 147-74. Websites: Parish website, accessed 30 November 2015 from http://www.catholicchurchuttoxeter.org.uk/. Other: The Architectural History Practice Limited: Churches in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham: An Architectural and Historical Review Prepared for English Heritage and the Archdiocese of Birmingham (2015).
Architect: A. W. N. Pugin; P. P. Pugin; Henry Sandy
Original Date: 1839
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II