Building » Wigan – Sacred Heart

Wigan – Sacred Heart

Throstlenest Avenue, Wigan WN6

Brick church in modern Romanesque style, by the prolific Catholic architect W.C. Mangan. The architectural effect is somewhat marred by the unfinished appearance of the main west front.

The first church was built in 1903, and survives as the parish social centre. It was replaced  in  1937  by  the  present  church,  built  from  designs  by  W.C.Mangan  of Preston. The foundation stone was laid by Archbishop Downey on 28 November 1937 and the church opened the following year. The presbytery was built in 1961, replacing a Georgian House (Fr Jolly).

The church is in what might loosely be termed a Modern Romanesque style. It is built in multicoloured stock bricks laid in garden wall bond (three courses of stretchers to each course of headers), under a prominent and steeply pitched tile roof (circa 2004). Two flat-roofed slightly projecting porches on either side of the main west front, which has a tall central window of three flat-topped lights with a relieving arch over, a steep gable with a brick cross pattern built in and brick on edge copings. Below the tall window at ground floor level is a 6-light window with leaded lights, soldier course and brick piers. Like all the other windows, these are now covered with polycarbonate protection. The nave lights have Cathedral glass of various shades, in geometrical patterns. Recesses on either side of the main front, from which the porches project, and outside these canted polygonal stumps on either side rise up to the main eaves height, with narrow glazing in one canted side; presumably these were intended to continue as towers or spirelets.  The flank elevations to the nave consist of five bays separated by stepped buttresses, with two flat-topped leaded windows per bay. The chancel is lower and shorter, and consists of one bay, with a plain brick east wall and high triple lights at the sides.

A narthex leads into a single volume internal space. A large and deep gallery occupies the area above the narthex and the westernmost bay of the nave. It contains an organ and overflow seating. The nave has thick plaster or reinforced concrete chamfered ribs marking the bay divisions, with an exposed canted timber roof in the bays themselves.  The walls are plastered and painted white with some areas (such as the panels on the gallery front) picked out in colour.  At the east end of the nave, shallow recesses on either side of the chancel arch with simple small stone altars (to Our Lady and the Sacred Heart). The altars have carved panels and crosses on the front and are probably original. At the foot of the chancel arch on the left hand side, the foundation stone laid by Archbishop Downey in 1937. The tall semi-circular headed chancel arch is chamfered and painted with a scroll motif in purple and gold.  The lower part of the chancel walls are lined with marble, installed in the late 1950s (Fr Jolly). The original high altar has been brought forward and reduced in size (parts also used for the ambo), as part of a reordering of the 1980s, which also involved the removal of the altar rails. The altar frontal is of coloured marbles with a finely carved roundel with loaves and fishes. There is a tabernacle throne in place of the former High Altar, and a shallow arched recess above, containing a Crucifix.

The benches are plain. There is a good set of Stations of the Cross, said by Fr Jolly to have been introduced in 1942, from the workshops of Stuflesser in the Tyrol.

Heritage Details

Architect: W. C. Mangan

Original Date: 1937

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed