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Roman Catholic Church of St Francis and attached former Presbytery

A Grade II Listed Building in Yoxall, Staffordshire

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Latitude: 52.7842 / 52°47'3"N

Longitude: -1.7913 / 1°47'28"W

OS Eastings: 414171

OS Northings: 320759

OS Grid: SK141207

Mapcode National: GBR 4CJ.HXS

Mapcode Global: WHCG9.G86W

Entry Name: Roman Catholic Church of St Francis and attached former Presbytery

Listing Date: 26 April 1984

Last Amended: 11 November 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1189006

English Heritage Legacy ID: 273570

Location: Yoxall, East Staffordshire, Staffordshire, DE13

County: Staffordshire

District: East Staffordshire

Civil Parish: Yoxall

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Yoxall St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

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Roman Catholic church and attached former presbytery, built in 1794 with alterations in the 1830s and late C20.


Roman Catholic church and attached former presbytery, built in 1794 with alterations in the 1830s and late C20.

MATERIALS: constructed of red brick with mostly ashlar dressings, although the pinnacles have been replaced with concrete ones. The roofs are plain tiles.

PLAN: the church is cruciform on plan and orientated north-east to south-west. It has a porch, nave, chancel, transepts, gallery and sacristy. The attached former presbytery to the south-west end is L-shaped on plan. The long continuous roof covers the sanctuary, nave and sacristy, meeting the house roof at the west end at right angles.

EXTERIOR: the CHURCH has Y-tracery windows, except the east window which is of three lights and with complex cusped tracery. There are diagonal buttresses with stone offsets; those to the transepts and east end are topped with concrete pinnacles The north-west elevation has a full-height gabled porch with stone coping and kneelers and surmounted by a finial in the form of a cruciform. It has a four-centred arched entrance with a pair of wooden doors and a two-light window above. To either side of the porch is a three-light window; that to the left is flanked by buttresses. The transept window is of two lights. The south-east elevation has a mid-C20 small addition to the west side of the transept and there is a two-light window to the transept and one of three lights to the nave. The HOUSE, which is attached to the church to the west, is of two storeys with a dentilled eaves cornice and brick gable stacks. Its principal (south-west) elevation has a central entrance with panelled door and a semi-circular fanlight. This is flanked by twelve-pane sash windows and there are three six-pane sash windows to the first floor.

INTERIOR: the staircase to the west gallery is inside the porch. Modern glazed doors lead into the area under the gallery which has been divided into a reconciliation room in the south half and a small narthex. In the west wall is a pointed niche and a Gothic panelled, segmental-headed door to the sacristy. The church is entered through a modern glazed screen beneath the west gallery front which has late-Georgian balusters. The nave and chancel have a continuous segmental ceiling with a thin wooden chancel arch; the shallow north and south transepts are also ceiled but at a lower level with a sharper profile. The east window glass is by Hardman and Sons c.1983, when the church was reordered. The tiled sanctuary floor dates from 1994, using new Minton tiles surplus to the reflooring of St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham. Some original quarry tiles remain under the west gallery. The C19 stone octagonal font has shields to each face and a thin octagonal broached stem, and there is a wall memorial to Revd Gasper Bricknell, d.1833. At the west end of the nave, on shelves at either end of the gallery balustrade, are two standing angels holding shields with the symbols of the Passion which flanked the high altar until 1971.

House interior not inspected (2015).


The passing of the Second Catholic Relief Act in 1791, 232 years to the day after public Masses had been made illegal, allowed Catholics, subject to the swearing of an oath to the king, to practice their religion without fear of prosecution, and this included the building of churches. Hoar Cross Hall, about two miles to the north-east of Woodlane, Yoxall, was a Catholic recusant house from the mid-C17, belonging to the Welles and then the Howard families, and Mass was said in its chapel. A small Roman Catholic chapel, together with an attached priest’s house, was built alongside the main turnpike road at Woodlane in 1794. It was originally probably attended by Catholics from Burton-upon-Trent. It was extended to its present size before 1840 by an addition to the east end; a porch and buttresses were also added. The windows in the western half have also been enlarged. A W N Pugin’s diaries record visits to Woodlane in 1841-42 and ‘materials for the chapel’, when in the service of the 16th Earl of Shrewsbury. It is possible that he furnished and decorated the sanctuary at this time.

In 1912, the church was overhauled inside and out. By then Burton had become the main Catholic centre for the area, and by the mid-C20 priests ceased to live at Woodlane and the presbytery was leased. Around 1965 the present pews were installed, brought from a Methodist church in Earl Shilton, Leicestershire. Further alterations were carried out in the late C20 when the high altar was removed and a forward altar created; the communion rail was removed; the sanctuary was extended for an organ; and the font was repositioned from under the gallery which was reconfigured at the same time to create a reconciliation room and narthex behind a glazed screen. The pinnacles were also replaced in concrete.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic Church of St Francis de Sales and presbytery in Woodlane, built in 1794 and extended probably in the 1830s, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as an early example of a Roman Catholic church, built soon after the passing of the Second Catholic Relief Act in 1791;
* Architectural interest: the church has a well-preserved and picturesque Gothic exterior and the simple, yet evocative interior;
* Group value: the church and the contemporary presbytery form a distinctive group.

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