Portway, Woodhouse Park, Wythenshawe, Manchester, M22
An imposing and monumental building by an architect of note. The church has a rich, little-altered interior with strong architectural qualities and notable furnishings. The church is described as ‘one of the few real landmarks of Wythenshawe’ and ‘beautifully built’, by Hartwell, Hyde and Pevsner (2004). It is one of a group of mid-twentieth century churches in the suburb which demonstrated the commitment to mission in the new community and includes architecturally notable Anglican churches by Basil Spence and George Pace.
Wythenshawe was originally part of Cheshire, acquired by Manchester City Council for a satellite suburb and laid out by Barry Parker from 1931. Building continued until 1939 and resumed after the Second World War. The parish of St Anthony started in ‘The Green Hut’ built in 1951, a Nissen hut which was demolished in 1960. After several years of fundraising the present church was built at a cost of more than £100,000, and it is one of the largest churches in the diocese. The church of St Anthony is the foremost Catholic church in Wythenshawe in terms of size and presence. It is part of a group of mid-twentieth century churches in the suburb which demonstrated the commitment to mission in the new community and includes architecturally notable Anglican churches by Basil Spence and G.G. Pace.
The church is built on a cruciform plan based on three sizes of parabolic arches and finished in narrow grey brick and Portland stone. The west end is treated as a giant parabolic arch with deeply inset entrance, flanked by pinnacles with green copper finials. On each side narrow aisles skirt the main body of the building and turn outwards at the junction with the transepts. A powerful octagonal crossing tower has an inset pyramidal copper roof. Windows are round-arched with cusped tracery of loosely Decorated inspiration.
The interior incorporates narrow processional aisles which terminate with altars at the west ends and confessionals at the junction with the transepts. There is a high dado of Hornton stone throughout. The deep sanctuary is framed by a giant parabolic arch and flanked by shallow recessed chapels also with parabolic arches. In the sanctuary there is a very large green and white marble baldacchino and on the north side a wall-pulpit with carved sides. There is a range of other furnishings of some note, including a raised projecting pulpit at the chancel arch, incorporating carved emblems of the Evangelists, and neo-baroque painted timber reredoses in the transept chapels of the Holy Family and St Anthony.
Update: The church was listed Grade II in 2014, following Taking Stock. List description at: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1417588
Architect: Adrian Gilbert Scott
Original Date: 1955
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II