Building » Waterlooville – Sacred Heart

Waterlooville – Sacred Heart

London Road, Waterlooville, Hants

The church is an interesting neo-Byzantine design, with an unusual plan form, by Wilfrid Mangan, a prolific Catholic architect of the early-mid twentieth century.

The land on which St Michael’s Convent was built belonged in the Middle Ages to the Lord of the Manor of Warblington. Its last pre-Reformation owner was Lady Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, who was the mother of Cardinal Pole, the last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury.

St Michael’s Convent was founded in October 1885, when six Sisters from the Monastery of Our Lady of Charity in Bartestree, Hereford, came to Waterlooville at the request of Bishop Vertue. The order was dedicated to caring for women and girls in need. The nuns established the new monastery in what serves now as the presbytery. The first Mass was celebrated there on 11 October 1885; before this date, the nearest church was at Havant. Soon afterwards work began on a temporary chapel, formed from an existing stable building, which served the Sisters from 1886 until 1923.

In 1887 there were 60 women and girls living at St Michael’s Convent. A new convent building designed by Leonard Stokes was opened in 1894 and added to piecemeal during the twentieth century, but a shortage of nuns apparently prevented the community from flourishing in the late-nineteenth century. In 1900, with 225 females in the care of the Sisters, the Bishop appealed to nuns from High Park in Dublin to come to the convent’s rescue. Six more sisters arrived the same year. However, rather than build a permanent new chapel, the Bishop advised the Sisters to first improve the laundry and accommodation for the women in their care. The workload of the convent women increased during the First World War, when St Michael’s accepted laundry from army units stationed in the area. Proceeds from this work were set aside to help fund the building of a new church.

The present church was designed by Wilfrid Mangan of Preston, who was commissioned to provide a building which would cater for the specialised work of the Sisters and the women and girls in their care. The Bishop also asked that the building provide accommodation for local worshippers1

, until such time as a new parish church could be built. The plan decided upon was an unusual configuration of three naves converging on a single sanctuary. The west-east central nave was for the nuns, who, being an enclosed Order, needed a completely separate section; the nave nearest the entrance was for parishioners, and the last nave was for the women and girls living at the convent. Bishop Cotter laid the foundation stone in June 1922 and opened the church on 6 December 1923.

In keeping with the relaxation of some of the austerities of convent life that took place in the 1960s, the Sisters took down the Canadian pine doors which had separated the other aisles from theirs. The altar was adapted at the same time.

Following a large increase in the parish population, partly due to a boom in post-war housing development in the area, the whole church was made available for parish use in 1983. The church remains the property of the convent.

In 1965 a new building was added to the south of the 1890s convent, by H. Tompsett and Elisabeth Holliss.

Each of Mangan’s three naves is set at an angle of 45 degrees to the next. The naves converge on a single sanctuary, which faces west. The sanctuary is set in a shallow apse, attached to the rear of which is a single-storey, flat-roofed building housing the sacristy and WC. The exterior of the building is red brick, with alternating groups of round-arched, three-light and single-light windows separated by brick buttresses. Above the nave windows the brickwork forms a herringbone pattern. There is a brick bell tower above the east gable end of the central nave. The roof is covered in concrete tiles. The sanctuary apse has a copper (or similar) roof covering.

Each of the naves has a timber hammerbeam roof and walls which are part exposed brick and part painted render. The nave windows contain small panes of clear leaded glass, with borders of stained glass and small stained glass motifs in the window arch. The central nave has a gallery which contains the organ; the wooden gallery front is simply carved. Below this, either side of a carved wooden altar, are the arched doors which lead to the convent. The main entrance to the church is now from the west, to the south side of the sanctuary. This leads directly into the original parishioner’s nave, which, like the other naves, has a black and white tiled floor and part-brick, part-rendered walls. There is a large round-arched, stained glass window in the south gable wall, flanked by two shorter arched windows. The gable end of the women and girls’ nave is solid wall, attached to a former convent building which is in a state of ruin1

. A segmental-arched door high up in the gable may originally have housed some kind of gallery for younger children. Each nave has original wooden pews.

The sanctuary, approached via two marble steps, contains a stone and marble altar table and gilded marble gradine. There are five stained glass windows above the altar in the apsidal sanctuary. Either side of the sanctuary are two small side altars. These contain statues which are flanked by marble columns set in recessed marble arches. Until 1967 each nave had its own communion rails.

Heritage Details

Architect: Wilfrid C. Mangan of Preston

Original Date: 1922

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: II