Church Lane, Wolstanton, Staffordshire ST5
A plain brick structure built in the late 1950s on a longitudinal plan, designed without aisles to maximise the congregation’s view of the sanctuary, and in a diluted version of the round-arched style so popular for Catholic churches in the years up to the Second Vatican Council.
From the late nineteenth century Mass was said in private houses in Wolstanton by the priest from St Joseph, Burslem (qv). By 1923 a Mass centre had opened at the school in Ellison Street. In 1924 a small temporary church was opened in Dimsdale Parade East, and it continued to be served from Burslem until the appointment of a resident priest for the new parish in 1927.
In 1954 the National Coal Board offered the present site free from the risk of subsidence. The school opened in 1958 while the foundation stone of the church was laid on 6 June 1959. It was opened on 7 October the same year. The architects were Hulme & Upright of Tunstall. The Catholic Building Review (1959) wrote:
‘The church represents a modern interpretation of Romanesque and in this respect shows the influence of the Archbishop, who together with the Rev. Father McCabe made invaluable contributions to the design, some of which establish a precedent in Roman Catholic church building more particularly around this area. The aisles plan has been adopted giving excellent views for congregation from all parts of the nave. The sanctuary affords the people greater facility to participate in the liturgy, at the same time giving ample space for the clergy on ceremonial occasions’.
Reordering took place in the mid/late 1960s (as well as the completion of the Lady Chapel) and the church was consecrated on 8 May 1969. The Archer (now New Smithy) public house was acquired with a view to demolition for car parking and was in a derelict condition when purchased. Subsequently, however, it has been refurbished and is now let out by the parish. The parish hall was built in 1980-1. In 2004 the parish was united with Knutton and Chesterton, which are served from Wolstanton.
The church is oriented towards the south so directions given here are liturgical. The framework consists of nine steel portal frames with buff brick for the facings. It is in a diluted version of the round-arched style so popular for Catholic churches in the interwar years and up to the Second Vatican Council. The aisleless nave and sanctuary are under one continuous pantile roof, and there is no tower or bellcote. At the southeast there is a flat-roofed Lady Chapel. There is a tall round-arched entrance framed in blue Staffordshire bricks enclosing a stone surround to the entrance with window above. The fenestration is mostly of paired round-arched lights, but with a round window at the west end and triple lights to the sanctuary.
The interior space is a large, broad rectangle (apart from a slight narrowing for the sanctuary). The plastered walls are off-white (red in the sanctuary) with red reveals to the windows in the nave. The roof is simple and spare with plain raised tie-beams to equally plain principals. At the west end there is an organ gallery. There are no fittings and furnishings which require particular mention.
Architect: Hulme & Upright
Original Date: 1959
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed