Building » Wiveliscombe – St Richard of Chichester

Wiveliscombe – St Richard of Chichester

Church Street, Wiveliscombe, Somerset, TA4

A modest, steel-framed church built after the Second Vatican Council, within the Wiveliscombe Conservation Area. 

The mission in Wiveliscombe was founded by Bishop Lee in 1942, initially using a first-floor room above a shop. The poor condition of the building and the threat of its demolition for road widening prompted the building of a purpose-built church. In the 1960s, a suitable site was acquired for £8,000 in Church Street, comprising a house (number 34) which would be the presbytery, and a building which would be demolished for the new church. Work on site began in December 1966, and the church was opened in late 1967 by Bishop Rudderham. The overall cost was £13,000. The architects were Ivor Day & O’Brien of Bristol. Since 1973, the church has been served from Wellington. In 1974, the former presbytery was sold for £14,000. 


The church faces south. This description follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar was to the east.

The church is a steel-framed building on a longitudinal plan. The area around the west entrance is clad in reconstructed stone, while the side and rear elevations are rendered. The roof is of asymmetrical pitch, with the apex closer to the north walls. At the west is a recessed open porch with corner pillar at the north and the entrance at the south. The west window has a triangular head; the other windows are oblong. All windows have small-paned leading.

Inside, the roof trusses and the underside of the roof’s insulating material are exposed, a device used by the same architects also at Cheddar (qv). The circular stone font at the west end is flanked by two tall timber sculptures of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph on stone pedestals. The east wall of the sanctuary (flanked by two vertical windows) and of the side chapel have the same red reconstituted stone as the west elevation. The tabernacle is placed in a timber altar in the side chapel. The bronze Stations of the Cross are signed R. Gourdon. The nave has a fine slate floor; the sanctuary floor is of stone.

Heritage Details

Architect: Ivor Day & O’Brien

Original Date: 1967

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed