Kington Road, Weobley, HR4 8QS
The earliest post-Reformation public place of Catholic worship in Herefordshire, built in 1835 by the Monnington family of Sarnesfield Court. It retains the low-key nonconformist character of many Catholic churches built a decade or two earlier. A handsome Regency presbytery adjoins to the east, and together these make a prominent and positive contribution to the local conservation area. The interior is simple and evocative in character, with a gallery at the west end. There are a few furnishings of note.
The church of St Thomas of Hereford at Weobley is the oldest post-Reformation Catholic church in Herefordshire still in use. Dedicated to St Thomas of Cantilupe, a thirteenth century Bishop of Hereford, it was built in 1835 by the Monnington family, who had remained loyal to the Catholic faith and maintained a Jesuit chaplaincy at nearby Sarnesfield Court. Shortly after the church a presbytery was built alongside, and in 1849 (Kelly) or 1851 (Waring) a schoolroom was built behind the church (the present sacristy). The church was put in the care of the Benedictines of Downside, who transferred it to Belmont in 1923. In the mid-1930s adaptations were carried out and new furnishings introduced by Dom Augustine Kerwin, with a new high altar and statues of the Sacred Heart and St Thomas of Hereford by the Hereford woodcarver Charles Victor Gertner (whose work can also be seen at Ledbury and Builth, qqv).
In the early 1970s alterations were made to the presbytery by Fr Wilfrid Chadwick, involving the opening up of the ground floor to create a single space for parish social use. After his death, Fr Chadwick left over £24,000 to fund the restoration of the church and presbytery.
The list entry (below) is brief, and does not describe the interior.
The church has a low-key, almost nonconformist architectural character, typical of many built in the decades immediately after the Second Catholic Relief Act. It is stone built and slightly predates the higher brick-built presbytery, which adjoins to the east and is of Regency character. The church has gothic windows with brick arches, a slate roof and a bellcote housing a single bell on the western gable, and a small gabled twentieth century porch at the west end. At the rear is a mid-nineteenth century lean-to brick addition, originally built as a school room and now the sacristy.
The interior is a single space with plastered walls and shallow vaulted ceiling (now panelled). There is a small organ/choir gallery at the west end. The furnishings are twentieth century, and include a carved oak altar and reredos, both gothic, said to be the work of C. V. Gertner (as are the oak statues of the Sacred Heart and St Thomas of Hereford). On the north wall, a small wooden panel invites prayers for the Monnington family, builders of the church. Some of the finest work, albeit somewhat incongruous in this setting, are the angels in front of the gallery at the west end. These formerly surmounted the choir screens at Belmont, and were salvaged and brought here after the destructive post-Vatican II reordering of the abbey church.
SO 35 SE WEOBLEY CP MEADOW STREET (north side)
6/154 Church of St Thomas of Hereford and attached Presbytery
Roman Catholic Church and Presbytery. 1834 with some mid-C19 extensions. Coursed rubble with slate roof to church, presbytery of brick with hipped slate roof. Church aligned east/west, with presbytery attached to east end. South front: church to left has three windows, each of two pointed lights (in timber) under two-centred heads of brick. A small bellcote of the west gable contains a single bell. Presbytery has lateral stacks and is two storeys high. Three windows, the centre slightly advanced, all 9-pane sashes under rubbed brick heads. The former central entrance has a semi-circular head with fanlight over a glazing bar sash, flanked by two glazing bar sashes. Entrance in right-hand return wall. (BoE, p 313).
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1835
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II