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Roman Catholic Church of The Holy Family

A Grade II* Listed Building in Bewdley, Worcestershire

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Latitude: 52.3742 / 52°22'27"N

Longitude: -2.3156 / 2°18'56"W

OS Eastings: 378611

OS Northings: 275179

OS Grid: SO786751

Mapcode National: GBR 0BK.3CP

Mapcode Global: VH91S.TL68

Entry Name: Roman Catholic Church of The Holy Family

Listing Date: 22 April 1950

Last Amended: 4 February 2016

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1099983

English Heritage Legacy ID: 156694

Location: Bewdley, Wyre Forest, Worcestershire, DY12

County: Worcestershire

District: Wyre Forest

Civil Parish: Bewdley

Built-Up Area: Bewdley

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Ribbesford with Bewdley and Dowles etc

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

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A Roman Catholic parish church, built as a non-conformist chapel in about 1778, reopened as a Catholic church in 1953.


A Roman Catholic parish church, built as a non-conformist chapel in about 1778; reopened as a Catholic church in 1953.

The church is constructed from pinkish-red brick, with slate roofs and some stone dressings.

Aligned NW-SE, a rectangular plan with apsidal ends to the body of the church; a short rectangular range projecting at the northern corner.

The body of the church is a high single storey, with apsidal ends. The side elevations each have a moulded stone cornice and two window openings, which have semi-circular heads and stone architraves with impost blocks and keystones, each housing multi-paned casements. There are similar windows to each of the SE and NW elevations. The entrance, to the NE, is centrally placed, with a stone architrave to the doorway, with a C20 door of six raised and fielded panels. To the left of the entrance, winding around the apsidal end of the church, the stair to the gallery was formerly open, with a roof carried on slender, timber Doric columns. It is now enclosed by a mid-C20 wall between the columns, with three semi-circular-headed windows stepping up. Above the entrance is a high apron extending across from the staircase wall, with a large sculpted Crucifixion. Extending forwards at the northern corner of the church is a lower, single-storey, pitched-roof range dating from the early C19, with a vehicular entrance in the gable end, and C20 windows to the south side.

The church is entered via a porch with double doors, raised and fielded, and part glazed with small coloured glass panes, with matching panelling. Set into the right-hand wall is a small stone stoup, imported in the C20. The porch opens under the curved NE gallery, which is carried on two half-height, timber Doric columns on high plinths and extends across a window at either end. The gallery front is raised and fielded with pierced rectangles below the rail. To the left of the entrance is a further double doorway with six-panel raised and fielded doors to the vestry in the early-C19 extension. To the right, an opening to the now-enclosed gallery staircase, which is stone. The body of the church has a continuous moulded cornice. The floor is parquet. At the SW end, a raised, shaped dias with fittings of circa 1953. The panelled timber altar stands forward of the high, canopied timber reredos, designed to sit between the windows, its semi-circular arch mirroring their shape. Set high under the canopy is a terracotta roundel depicting the Holy Family, discovered in a garden adjoining the Church of St Ambrose in Kidderminster, and restored before its installation here by Hardmans of Birmingham. There is an interesting collection of graffiti initials of the C18 and C19 on the interior of the gallery front.

Attached to the north side of the building is a glazed link and a circular meeting room, both added in 2013. This extension is excluded from the listing.


The Catholic community of Bewdley had no church of its own until the C20, but was served by the priest from nearby Kidderminster. In 1952, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham acquired a former non-conformist chapel on the High Street, which had been built around 1778 on the site of a late-C17 chapel. The building had originally been built as a Presbyterian place of worship, but was later taken over by a Unitarian congregation who continued to worship there until 1894. In the early C19 a lower, gabled range was added at the northern corner of the building, later used as the vestry. After this date it was used by Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists, before passing out of use as a place of worship in the early C20. From 1930 the building was used as a builder’s store and workshop; its furnishings and panelling were stripped out, though the gallery was retained. The former chapel was listed at Grade II* on 22 April 1950, and scheduled as an Ancient Monument on 3 November 1951 (Worcestershire 53, later Hereford & Worcester 252).

A Catholic parish was established in Bewdley, and the refitted church was opened in 1953. The restoration prior to its opening, overseen by the architect J T Lynch of Jennings, Homer and Lynch of Brierley Hill, included the replacement of the window surrounds with profiles matching the originals. Also, the stair to the gallery, which previously ran externally, was enclosed, using old brick to match the body of the church.

The church was de-scheduled on 17 October 1988.

In 2013, a new, circular meeting room extension was added, with a glazed link to the north of the building, and ramped access, all designed by architects Dean Walker of Bewdley (excluded from listing).

Reasons for Listing

A Roman Catholic parish church, built as a Non-conformist chapel circa 1778 and reopened as a Catholic church in 1953, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: the church is an assured Georgian building, of striking form with two apsidal ends, and an external stair to the gallery;
* Interior: the interior retains its curving first-floor gallery on classical columns;
* Historic interest: the building has an unusual history, having been constructed as a Presbyterian place of worship, later used by two different Non-conformist congregations, undergoing a period of secular use before being rescued and restored as a Roman Catholic church in 1953, with sensitive updating.

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