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Church of St Mary

A Grade II Listed Building in New Brighton, Wirral

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.4232 / 53°25'23"N

Longitude: -3.0384 / 3°2'18"W

OS Eastings: 331092

OS Northings: 392330

OS Grid: SJ310923

Mapcode National: GBR 7X6V.ZL

Mapcode Global: WH876.97D0

Entry Name: Church of St Mary

Location: Wirral, CH45

County: Wirral

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Locality: New Brighton

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Listing Date: 30 January 2017

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1435037

Summary

Anglican church, 1876-77, by E W Nobbs with G E Grayson as consultant. Buff-coloured snecked sandstone with red-sandstone ashlar dressings, slate roofs. Gothic style

Description

Anglican church, 1876-77, by E W Nobbs with G E Grayson as consultant. Buff-coloured snecked sandstone with red-sandstone ashlar dressings, slate roofs. Gothic style

PLAN: the church, which is located at the junction of Withens Lane and Manor Lane, has an irregular cruciform plan and is aligned NE-SW. The following geographical references will be referred to in their ritual sense.

EXTERIOR: externally the church has a series of steeply pitched roofs and all of the church's main windows have quoined surrounds, hoodmoulds, Gothic-arched heads with Perpendicular tracery, and leaded glazing, some with stained glass.

At the W end is a three-stage tower of 1882 with diagonal buttresses to the NW and SW corners and a crenellated parapet with crocketed pinnacles to the four corners and dragon-like gargoyles. Rising above and behind the parapet is a tiled pyramidal roof topped by a painted cast-iron cross and cockerel finial. A Gothic-arched doorway lies to the base of the tower on the W side and is set within a square-headed surround with carved foliate decoration to the spandrels and a hoodmould above. The original double doors have been removed due to their poor condition and are being stored inside the church. A single fake redwood door (the doorway is no longer in use) has been installed in their place and the iron hardware, including elaborate strap hinges and door pull, from the original doors reinstated on the new 'door'. Above the doorway is a very large arched and traceried W window. The tower's second stage, which sits above a red-sandstone band incorporating carved quatrefoil decoration, is blind. The third (belfry) stage has large Gothic-arched windows to all four faces with louvred traceried openings and a continuous hoodmould that runs around all four sides.

The four-bay nave has large traceried windows and buttresses separating the bays. Additional diagonal buttresses with dragon grotesques lie to the nave's W gable end adjoining the tower, along with two windows that are smaller versions of those to the side walls. The E end of the nave has lost its finial. An enclosed and gabled SW porch has a Gothic-arched doorway with a quoined surround and double doors with elaborate strap hinges. Above the doorway is a carved band incorporating quatrefoil decoration and a canopied statue niche containing a small statue of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus. A small square-headed traceried window exists to each side return.

The N and S transepts, which have lower roofs than the nave, are both gabled and have angle buttresses and very large traceried windows. The N transept retains its foliated cross finial, whilst that to the S transept has been lost. Lying alongside the N transept on its E side, and projecting further N, is a gabled projection of 1907 in snecked yellow sandstone with red-sandstone dressings, which contains the former choir vestry and organ chamber; the latter chamber is located at the S end of the projection and incorporates a cross-gable facing E. The N gable-end is lit by an eight-light mullioned and transomed window incorporating cusped lights with a relieving arch above, whilst the E cross-gable has a blocked-up window (the traceried surround is visible internally). A substantial chimneystack rises from the roof. Attached to the E side of the projection is a flat-roofed clergy vestry in the same style with a four-light mullioned window to the E side (each light with a cusped head) and a Gothic-arched doorway with carved spandrels. Two cusped windows exist to the N return.

Attached to the E side of the S transept, and aligned with the chancel, is a small gabled lady chapel with a diagonal buttress and a traceried window to the E gable end. A lean-to porch is attached to the chapel's S side with a Gothic-arched doorway set within a square-headed surround with carved spandrels and a door with elaborate strap hinges. A single-light window with a cusped head exists to the porch's E side return.

The chancel, which also has a lower roof than the nave and has lost its finial at the E end, has angle buttresses and traceried windows to the N and S sides. The very large E window has a hoodmould with carved angel stops and a small square four-light blind window above.

INTERIOR: the SW porch forms the church's main entrance and has a collared-truss roof with exposed rafters, bench seating to each side, and deep window reveals and sills to the two side windows. A Gothic-arched doorway with panelled double doors leads into the main body of the church, which has plastered walls and sandstone dressings. The interior consists of the base of the W tower (accessed through a tall W arch), an aisle-less nave, transepts and a tripartite E end incorporating a tall chancel arch flanked by two smaller arches; that to the N led to the organ chamber and vestries originally (now a community room and office space), whilst that to the right leads into the lady chapel.

The nave has a hammerbeam collar-truss roof with exposed rafters and sandstone corbels, whilst the transepts have collar-braced king-post trusses, and the chancel has a ceiled, boarded and ribbed roof.

A tall W arch with decorative cast-iron screen and gates leads through into the base of the tower, which has a parquet floor. The original W entrance has a quoined surround, but the rear face of the now fake door has been plastered over. Above the entrance is the W window, which has diamond-shaped leaded-glazing and margin lights with pale-pink, blue, yellow and green stained glass. Bell ropes hang down through the ceiling into the tower's base and a doorway in the NW corner leads to a sandstone spiral stair accessing the belfry, which contains a peal of eight bells cast by the Taylors foundry in Loughborough, and a timber stair leading up to the tower roof.

The nave has a modern raised floor in part, but the original wood-block floor survives underneath. Fixed-bench pews survive to the E half, but have been removed to the W half.

The interior contains a number of stained-glass windows, including a window on the S side of the nave towards the W end, which dates to c1903 and is by the Bromsgrove Guild and depicts Jesus with a flock of sheep overlooked by angels. The two windows in the W wall flanking the tower entrance are by AJ Davies of the Bromsgrove Guild; that to the N side of the W arch depicts the Crucifixion, whilst that to the S side of the W arch commemorates all those who served during the Second World War and depicts St George kneeling before an altar. Adjacent to this window and affixed to the W wall is a brass First World War memorial tablet. One of the windows in the N wall of the nave is by Charles Eamer Kempe (1837-1907) and depicts King Hiram (a figure associated with freemasonry), King David and King Solomon. Also affixed to the N wall is an elaborate marble tablet commemorating the life and reign of Queen Victoria. Further late-C19 and early-C20 stained-glass windows exist to the lady chapel, the chancel, and both sides of the nave, including one to the S side, which is a war memorial to a young parishioner killed at the Battle of Messines in 1918.

The N transept contains an early-C21 panelled timber screen erected to create an office and storage space behind. The entrance arch of the adjacent former organ chamber has been in-filled with panelling in the same style as that to the N transept to the lower part of the arch, with glazing to the upper part. The internal dividing wall between the former organ chamber and the former choir vestry has been removed and the space is now a community/meeting space known as the Columba Room with a kitchenette inserted at the N end. A painted fire surround survives to the W wall with an ogee-arched head to the blocked-up opening. The vestry to the NE corner of the church has been modernised and contains an office and toilets.

The S transept contains the font and also a Rushworth & Dreaper of Liverpool organ that was installed in the original organ chamber in the 1930s and was moved to its current location in 2006; the organ is believed to have possibly come from a Methodist chapel in Wales. The lady chapel is a plain space with a collared-rafter roof; its arched openings leading into the chancel and S transept were in-filled with glazing in c2006.

An altar platform and timber altar rails were installed in front of the chancel arch in the 1970s, with the platform now surmounted by a modern altar table. An elaborate sandstone pulpit with carvings of birds, animals and flora, figures of saints and pierced openings lies to the N side of the chancel arch and was donated by the mother of a little girl in 1891 who had died aged just under three years old. A timber canopy above was added in 1958 in memory of another parishioner. Behind the pulpit are decorative cast-iron chancel rails and gates.

The chancel has tall arched openings to each N and S side that have both been in-filled; that to the N side is identically styled to the former organ chamber entrance, which forms the W return, whilst the opening to the S side is a glazed screen. On the S side of the chancel is an elaborate carved sandstone and timber chair and kneeler with carved angels, which is similar in design and style to the pulpit and was probably produced by the same stonemason. The sanctuary is set behind timber altar rails incorporating pierced cusped openings and has a patterned tessarae floor. The lower part of the walls and a border around the E window are decorated with low-bas reliefs that were originally painted in bright colours, but are now painted white. However, the decoration, which includes a large depiction of an angel on the S wall, remains visible; the angel depiction is set above carved three-bay stalls set upon a dark-grey marble plinth. The sanctuary has an ornate carved and painted Gothic reredos incorporating relief figures, with a carved altar in front, all set upon a marble platform. The E window above depicts the Resurrection.

History

In 1870 a Mission House was erected in Liscard and in 1874 it became a temporary church. As worshipper numbers grew it became necessary to construct a permanent church and form a new parish for Liscard. The land for a new church was donated by Mrs Mary Anne Maddock, Lady of the Manor of Liscard, who laid the foundation stone on 13 January 1876. The Church of St Mary was consecrated on 13 December 1877 by the Bishop of Chester, Dr William Jacobson.

The church, which cost £6000 to construct and was designed to seat 620 people, was designed by local architect E W Nobbs of Liscard with G E Grayson of Liverpool as consultant. James Ridehalgh was the builder. The west tower was added in 1882 and was built by Messrs Thomas and Sons, and the vestries projection was added in 1907 to the design of H Hughes. The church's buff-coloured sandstone was provided by Mrs Maddock from her quarry, and the red sandstone came from quarries near Runcorn. The peal of eight bells was funded by one of the parishioners, Mrs Brooks and was dedicated and blessed on 31 December 1887 by the Bishop of Chester, Dr Stubbs.

George Enoch Grayson (1833/4-1912) was articled to Jonathan Gilliband Sale in 1851 before studying on the continent in 1856, and then establishing his own private architectural practice in Liverpool in 1857. In 1886 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and formed the notable architectural practice of Grayson and Ould with Edward Augustus Lyle Ould (1852-1909), who had trained under John Douglas in Chester. The two men were joined by Grayson's son, George Hastwell Grayson (1871-1951) in 1897. Both Grayson as an individual, and the practice of Grayson and Ould as a partnership, have many listed buildings to their name.

Reasons for Listing

The Church of St Mary, Liscard, constructed in 1876-77 by E W Nobbs with G E Grayson as consultant, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural quality: it has a distinguished Gothic design with finely detailed elevations incorporating Perpendicular traceried windows, richly carved stonework, and a landmark west tower;
* Degree of survival: despite some minor later alteration the church retains its historic character and architectural integrity;
* Interior quality: the interior has a dramatic sense of space and an impressive timber roof structure. Good quality fixtures and fittings also survive throughout, including the ornate sandstone pulpit, carved timber altar rails and altar, elaborate reredos, and peal of eight bells in the tower;
* Artistic interest: the interior contains a number of works of artistic note, including stained-glass windows by the Bromsgrove Guild and Charles Eamer Kempe, and low-bas relief wall decoration in the sanctuary.

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