Dorchester Road, Weymouth, Dorset
A plain Georgian chapel later aggrandised, including a classical façade of 1909.
The earliest baptismal entry for Weymouth is 1819. In 1820, a French émigré priest, Abbe Simon, had rooms at 63 St Mary Street. The local congregation was augmented by soldiers from the barracks and visitors to the town, which was made fashionable by George III. Abbe Simon’s successor Dr Hartley sought to provide a ‘decent public chapel’ and in 1830 told the Vicar Apostolic George Baines of his scheme for a chapel of Nonconformist character in Thomas Street. However, the site eventually acquired (in 1834) was on Dorchester Road. The completed church, with a classical façade with Corinthian pilasters across the upper tier, was opened on 22 October the following year. A new sanctuary was built c.1900, or was in existence by 1909, when the present ‘Quattrocento-ish façade’ with statue of St Augustine was added; in his Advent Pastoral for that year, the Bishop of Plymouth reported that ‘at Weymouth means have been found to give a more seemly front to the church of St Augustine’s. An elegant one of purely Italian architecture has been substituted’ (The Tablet, 25 December 1909). According to the list description this was from designs by ‘Jackson’ (presumably Samuel Jackson MSA of Weymouth, or one of his five architect sons); the sanctuary may have been added at about the same time.
The date of the refronting apart, the list description (below) appears to be accurate and comprehensive. Under the gallery are three mid-nineteenth century memorial tablets. Between the lobby or narthex and the church is a round-arched doorway with a pair of half-glazed doors and a fanlight above. Octagonal stone font with Gothic panels, at the east end of the nave. The 1970 south window is by John Hardman Studios. One earlier stained glass window with three roundels set within a decorative pattern.
Roman Catholic parish church. c1835, refronted c1900 by Jackson, and new sanctuary area built, extensive refurbishment 1970. Portland stone ashlar front on a brick backing, rendered sides, brick sanctuary and apse, slate roof. PLAN: plain 3-bay nave with small W gallery, intermediate pre-sanctuary space, and sanctuary with flat apsidal apse; on the N side are secondary rooms with lower roof level. EXTERIOR: the front to Dorchester Road is in Roman Renaissance style, in 2 storeys, the centre section brought forward, with dentilled pediment, above a full entablature on Corinthian corner pilasters, paired to the centre unit. A niche contains a carved stone figure of St Augustine. The lower level has plain wings and a rusticated centre section with an arched doorway containing a pair of panelled doors under a fanlight, on 2 steps. The plinth is moulded to the centre section, and there is a plain mid band. The sides are rendered and scribed, with plain eaves and plastic rain-water goods. The left flank has three 30-pane lights, plus a 16-pane to gallery level, above a blind light and a small 4-pane; the lean-to extension has a panelled door under 4-pane transom light. The right flank is similar, with 2 arched 12-pane lights in plain reveals to the centre section, which is slightly set back and with lower eaves; beyond is the brick-built C20 sanctuary, with a lead-covered apse, and 2 arched lights. Approx 10m from the front is a plank door in broad pilasters, with a flat coping, crossing the side access. INTERIOR: lobby has a blank arch to left, and to right a dogleg stick stair with newel, the upper flight enclosed by match-boarding. Nave has flat ceiling, plain plastered walls with splayed window reveals and deep splayed sills, and plastic flooring. W gallery, with panelled front, is carried on 2 slender cast-iron columns. The 2-bay pre-sanctuary space is framed in square Corinthian pilasters to a proscenium, with central and quarter corner pilasters. The ceiling in 6 compartments has a moulded cornice, with dentils and modillions. To the right are the 2 arched lights in moulded architraves with keystone, ears, and flared feet, on a moulded sill band. On the left is a door in architrave. A second proscenium arch gives to the sanctuary with a shallow altar recess to segmental head, flanked by flat recessed arches, and with a sill band as in the centre section. To the right are 2 arched lights with iron armature. A simple moulded cornice. FITTINGS: the altar is a plain stone slab on 4 stubby ‘Doric’ legs, on 1+2 steps in polished marble. There is coloured glass of 1970 in one window of the mid-section.
(Ricketts E: The Buildings of Old Weymouth: Melcombe Regis and Westham: Weymouth: 1976-: 163).
Listing NGR: SY6793080488
Amended by AHP 25.01.2021
Architect: Jackson (for the later work)
Original Date: 1835
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II