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Church of St Paul, including south-west boundary wall and gates, Hooton

A Grade II* Listed Building in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire West and Chester

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Latitude: 53.2905 / 53°17'25"N

Longitude: -2.9509 / 2°57'3"W

OS Eastings: 336708

OS Northings: 377486

OS Grid: SJ367774

Mapcode National: GBR 7ZTD.X4

Mapcode Global: WH87T.NK07

Entry Name: Church of St Paul, including south-west boundary wall and gates, Hooton

Listing Date: 17 May 1985

Last Amended: 26 September 2013

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1115407

English Heritage Legacy ID: 56271

Location: Cheshire West and Chester, CH66

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Electoral Ward/Division: Willaston and Thornton

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Ellesmere Port

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Hooton St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Chester

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Anglican church, 1858-62, by James Kellaway Colling. Rock-faced local red sandstone with Stourton ashlar, red sandstone ashlar dressings and slate roofs. Eclectic Romanesque style with Lombardo Gothic, Rundbogenstil and Byzantine influences. Rundbogenstil (or Round-arch style) is an eclectic Germanic type of 19th century architecture with Romanesque and Renaissance influences.


PLAN: The church is aligned north-east - south-west and has a basilica-style plan with a nave and flanking side aisles, shallow transepts, an octagonal crossing tower and a semi-circular chancel apse at the north-east end with an ambulatory. Set to the north side of the chancel apse is a small vestry and to the south side is the former Naylor family entrance. The church is located adjacent to the Grade II*, former Chester Road entrance to Hooton Park designed by Samuel Wyatt in 1788. The following geographical references in the description of the church will be referred to in their ritual sense.

EXTERIOR: The Church of St Paul is a relatively compact but tall building that is 105ft long, 52ft wide and 95ft high with the nave, transepts and chancel being of equal height. The red sandstone used in the building's construction is from Richard Christopher Naylor's own quarries, which were located on part of the Hooton Park estate near Eastham. The exterior is of rock-faced red sandstone with contrasting Storeton-ashlar banding and dressings, including window surrounds. Red ashlar is also used extensively for quoining, and window heads are of alternate red and Storeton ashlar voussoirs. The windows all have rounded Romanesque heads, although the transepts and side aisles also incorporate plate tracery within the arches. A clerestory exists to the nave, transept side walls and chancel; the windows are arranged in threes in the nave and transepts giving the appearance of arcading, but are paired in the chancel clerestory.

A gabled west porch is supported by columns with polished pink Peterhead granite shafts with Storeton bases and stiff-leaf capitals, and incorporates a wide round-headed arch with voussoirs of alternate ashlars, which is replicated to the entrance set behind, along with a carved moulding band. The entrance doorway has a shouldered head and timber double-doors with elaborate strap hinges. The doorway is flanked by very slender, pale blue-coloured columns with composite shafts and Storeton bases and stiff-leaf capitals, and a richly carved tympanum above incorporates the monogram 'IHS' and the words 'ENTER INTO HIS GATES WITH THANKSGIVING'. Above the west entrance is a large wheel window with a surround formed of voussoirs of alternate ashlars. The gable is ornamented with a Lombard frieze of Storeton stone, which is also replicated to the flanking side aisles, and also the transepts, side walls of the side aisles, clerestory, chancel and ambulatory. Flanking the nave's west end, as described above, are lower, lean-to side aisles with angle buttresses to the outside corner. Each side aisle has a large west window with plate tracery and a carved, red-sandstone roundel to the tympanum above depicting Christian monograms; that to the north aisle reads 'IHS', whilst that to the south aisle depicts Chi Rho.

The 3-bay nave and lean-to side aisles are set underneath separate roofs and the side aisles are lit by windows in the same style as those to their west return walls; the windows are separated by buttresses. The nave clerestory windows, in their triple-light arrangements, are separated by short pilaster strips that rise to form part of the Lombard frieze above. The transepts project slightly further than the side aisles and are each lit by two tall, round-headed windows with plate tracery and carved, red-sandstone quatrefoils to their tympanums. Set to the gable apex above is a glazed quatrefoil set within a surround with voussoirs of alternating ashlars. A short, octagonal crossing/lantern tower is lit on each side by paired round-headed windows set underneath a single arch with dividing columns and a glazed roundel to the tympanum. The tower rises from a gabled base and is surmounted by a dentil cornice and a short polygonal spire of banded stone incorporating ornamental gablets and a large foliated finial.

The church's apsidal chancel has an attached ambulatory that is lower in height and follows the curve of the apse. The ambulatory is lit by three sets of triple-light windows flanked by paired windows, which are all separated by pilaster strips; the individual windows are separated by slender, red-ashlar, engaged-columns with Storeton bases and stiff-leaf capitals. Attached to the north side of the ambulatory is a small, lower vestry with a pitched roof, a dentil band to the east return, and a north window in a similar style as those to the side aisles. Rising from the vestry are paired octagonal chimneystacks with crenellated tops. Attached to the south side of the ambulatory is the former private entrance of the Naylor family. This consists of a large porch linked to the ambulatory by a cloister walk that originally had open-arched sides, but was glazed pre-1910. The walk incorporates a triple-light arcade supported by columns with polished granite shafts and Storeton bases and stiff-leaf capitals. The porch has wide arched openings of two orders set to three sides with carved mouldings. Each opening's inner arch is supported by engaged columns with Storeton bases and stiff-leaf capitals, whilst the outer arch is supported by slender, polished Peterhead granite shafts with capitals and bases in the same style as those to the inner arch. The openings were originally fully open, but that to the south side now contains a door, and those to the side returns are now glazed. Above the porch is a belfry spire (restored in the 1930s) that is a simplified version of the crossing tower and contains a bell replaced in 1953. A statue of St Paul, which originally surmounted the belfry is now located within the church interior.

INTERIOR: Internally the walls are un-plastered and there are stone, tile (some encaustic) and floorboard floors. Fixed pews and choir stalls are set upon slightly raised platforms in the nave, choir and side aisles with floorboard floors; the timber floor in the south aisle has been replaced and at the time of writing, the floor in the north aisle is also due to be replaced. All the principal areas of the interior are set underneath pitch-pine, ribbed and boarded wagon roofs, and in keeping with the exterior, all arched openings and windows within the interior have voussoirs of alternating ashlars to their heads or surrounds. The windows contain a mixture of plain leaded glazing and stained glass.

Set just inside the west entrance is a small panelled vestibule incorporating leaded-glazed, trefoil-arched, upper lights. Located above the vestibule is a large 1930s organ by George Sixsmith & Son of Mossley, Ashton-under-Lyne that fills the width of the nave and obscures the lower half of the wheel window from this perspective; the organ was installed in 1962 from a parish church in Ellesmere Port. The large wheel window contains stained glass by Clayton & Bell and depicts floral designs, including stylised lilies.

The 3-bay nave has Romanesque arcades to each side with columns incorporating polished Peterhead-granite shafts that mirror the design of those to the exterior with Gothic-style, Caen-stone bases and stiff-leaf capitals. Above the arcades, and set below the clerestory, is a dentil band. Set to the western end of the nave is an octagonal font of polished, dark-green Cornish serpentine (a marble-like stone) by John Organ of the London & Penzance Serpentine Co with a square base, columnar shaft, C15-style square-flower ornamentation, and a wooden lid. The font was exhibited at the Great Exhibition, 1851 where it is said to have been awarded a medal, and was illustrated in the official catalogue, from which it was subsequently bought by Richard Christopher Naylor. Wording running around the top of the font is from John ch.3 v.5 and reads 'EXCEPT A MAN BE BORN OF WATER AND OF THE SPIRIT HE CANNOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD'.

The side aisles are lit by paired lancet windows each separated by a column with a red-ashlar shaft and a Caen-stone base and still-leaf capital. The north aisle has a west window formed of paired, stained-glass lancets set underneath a single arch by Kempe Workshops (1912). The lancets depict St Elizabeth and her child and St Mary the Virgin, and set to the tympanum above is a carved roundel depicting Chi Rho with Alpha and Omega (the symbol of Christ within the symbol for eternity), which is replicated above the corresponding window in the south side aisle. The south aisle's west window dates to 1890 and depicts St Elizabeth and St Luke.

Four tall Romanesque arches access the chancel, nave and transepts and surmounting them, and set atop pendentives, is the crossing, which appears as an open, Storeton-ashlar dome internally with red-ashlar banding, through which can just be seen the lantern tower above. The crossing arches are all carried on pillars of clustered shafts with stiff-leaf capitals and plain bases; the two inner shafts of the chancel arch are shorter and are supported by angel busts and foliated corbels. The north transept contains a painted and gilded, timber war memorial (1924), which is attached to the north wall and commemorates those of the parish killed during WWI and WWII (the names for those lost in WWII being added later). Above are two sets of tall, paired, stained-glass lancets set within single Romanesque arches, that are by James Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd, 1929, and depict St Columba, St Aidan, St Augustine and St Chad. A descending dove is depicted in a quatrefoil to the centre of the tympanum. The south transept has similarly arranged windows that depict St Peter, St James, St John and St Paul, and an angel to the quatrefoil in the centre of the tympanum. Flanking the chancel arch on the north side is an ornate and richly carved Caen-stone pulpit incorporating composite (imitation marble) colonettes. To the south side of the chancel arch is a free-standing eagle lectern (1908) and at the base of the chancel arch's southern clustered-shaft pillar is a foundation stone with an inset brass plaque with lettering painted in red (much of the paint has been lost).

Beyond the transepts the side aisles continue as an arcaded apse aisle/ambulatory that encircles the altar and choir (chancel). The Romanesque-arched entrances to the ambulatory and side aisles each contain a smaller inner arch, which is carried on short corbelled columns; the corbels being shaped as the heads of kings and queens. The 9-bay ambulatory arcade is supported by paired, polished Peterhead-granite shafts, set in depth with Caen-stone bases and stiff-leaf capitals. A small vestry lies off to the north side of the ambulatory and contains later built-in cupboards. The south side of the ambulatory contains an alabaster bust of Richard Christopher Naylor's first wife, Caroline, signed 'L.Macdonald, Roma, 1854', which is set upon a red-ashlar plinth attached to the south wall and which incorporates an inscribed plaque. Off the south side of the ambulatory is the former Naylor family cloister-walk entrance, which incorporates an inscribed stone to the east wall referencing the fact that below the walk is a vault containing the bodies of Richard Christopher Naylor's first wife, Caroline, and his infant daughter, Caroline Frances Selina who were re-interred at Hooton in 1863 following completion of the church. Access to the vault is believed to be via the vestry. Incorporated into the south-east porch is a stone commemorating the installation of a new bell in 1953, which is dedicated to a former vicar.

In the chancel the choir is set higher than the ambulatory and is accessed by two steps, with the altar being set slightly higher and accessed by a further step. The choir contains simply carved choir stalls and a Brindley & Foster organ of c1810, which was installed in the 1850s and renovated in the C20, but has now been superseded by the later organ above the west door. The chancel clerestory is formed of paired, round-headed windows separated by very slender, red-ashlar, engaged-columns with carved stone bases and capitals in the same style as those to the rest of the building. The windows contain stained-glass images of saints and set below them is a dentil band and a carved band with stylised lettering that reads 'THIS CHURCH WAS ERECTED BY RICHARD CHRISTOPHER NAYLOR ESQUIRE AND MARY SOPHIA HIS WIFE IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD MDCCCLVIII'. In front of the altar are curved, partly-gilded, wrought-iron altar rails with scrolled and foliate decoration and a substantial, pitch-pine, toad's-back handrail, whilst behind the altar is a pitch-pine, pierced balustrade. Set behind the altar in the ambulatory are three brightly-coloured stained-glass windows by Clayton & Bell (1860s) depicting scenes from the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ. Flanking the altar windows to the left (north) are three windows (1901) depicting Silas, St Paul and Timothy, whilst flanking to the right (south) are three windows (1906) depicting Moses, King David and Elijah; all are by Heaton, Butler & Bayne. Lining the internal base of the ambulatory arcade behind the altar are original, built-in trunks/chests that follow the curve of the altar, whilst attached to the external wall of the ambulatory is bench seating.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURE: Enclosing the churchyard on the south-west side is a low boundary wall constructed of Storeton stone with flat-topped pyramidal copings and wrought-iron gates. Originally the churchyard was larger on this side, but when Chester Road was widened in 1932, part of the churchyard was lost and the boundary wall and gates were moved further back towards the church. The section of walling in line with the church's west entrance echoes the semi-circular/concave shape of the neighbouring Hooton Lodge buildings, screen wall and gates (separately listed at Grade II*) and has two centrally placed piers with chamfered corners and stepped pyramidal caps. Surmounting the caps are decorative wrought-iron finials that are linked by a wrought-iron arch that originally incorporated a gas lamp; the lamp has since been removed. The low flanking walls are surmounted by decorative wrought-iron railings and are ramped at the outer ends where the wall becomes higher fronting the pavement and Chester Road.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 16 August 2017.


Until the 1850s the parish of Hooton did not exist and local residents had to travel some distance to attend church in Eastham. However, following the acquisition of Hooton Hall (now demolished) and the Hooton Park estate by the Liverpool banker, Richard Christopher Naylor in 1849, Naylor decided to create a new parish and construct a new church. The design of the Church of St Paul was entrusted to James Kellaway Colling and the church was constructed in 1858-62 at a cost of £5000. Prior to his commission for the church, Colling had already remodelled Hooton Hall for Naylor and designed the Albany (an office and warehouse building) for him in Liverpool. The builders were Samuel Hill Holme and John Nicol of Liverpool and the foundation stone was laid by Naylor and his second wife, Mary Sophia on 5 October 1858. The church was consecrated by the Bishop of Chester, the Right Revd. John Graham on St Paul's Day, 25 January 1862.

The church's architectural sculpture work was carried out by L McDonal and Norbury & Co, and the stained glass, much of which was added in the late-C19 and early-C20, was designed and produced by Heaton, Butler & Bayne, Clayton & Bell, Kempe Workshops, and James Powell & Sons (Whitefriars) Ltd. A burial ground was created in 1925 on the south side of the church, and extended to include the east side of the churchyard in 1936. In 2011 the church's spire was repaired and strengthened.

James K. Colling (1816-1905) is a distinguished C19 architect who was based in London, but worked on commissions throughout the country. He is particularly noted for his Gothic designs and the use of medieval decorative ornament, and was the author of 'Gothic Ornaments' (1850) and 'Details of Gothic Architecture' (1856). Colling has many listed buildings to his name that he designed or worked on, including the National Portrait Gallery, City of Westminster (1890-95, designed with Ewan Christian, Grade I), the Albany, Liverpool (1856, Grade II*), and numerous Grade II listed buildings on the Ashwicke Park estate, Hawkesbury, Gloucestershire.

Reasons for Listing

The Hooton Church of St Paul, 1858-62 by James Kellaway Colling, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural quality: the lavishly detailed exterior achieves a sense of monumentality despite the church's small size, with the tripartite west elevation and octagonal crossing tower being particularly striking focal points;

* Design quality: it possesses a unique eclectic-Romanesque design incorporating Gothic, Rundbogenstil and Byzantine influences, and a basilica-style form emphasised by a semi-circular chancel apse and ambulatory;

* Architect: it was designed by the notable C19 architect, James Kellaway Colling and is an excellent example of his work;

* Interior quality: the impressive interior contains numerous high-quality features and draws upon a wide range of architectural influences that showcase Colling's skill as an architect and his originality, and also the willingness of the church's wealthy patron, Richard Christopher Naylor, to afford Colling creative freedom;

* Historic interest: it is an excellent example of a C19 estate church that retains clear evidence of the close association with its wealthy patrons through the incorporation of an unusual cloister walk and porch that originally formed the private Naylor family entrance, and the use of local materials that originated from the Naylor quarries;

* Group value: it has strong group value with the neighbouring Grade II* Hooton Lodge, screen wall and gates (c1788, designed by Samuel Wyatt); the buildings together reflecting the continued importance of Hooton Hall and the Hooton Park estate in the C18 and C19.

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