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Church of Saint Alban

A Grade II Listed Building in Stroud, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.7451 / 51°44'42"N

Longitude: -2.21 / 2°12'36"W

OS Eastings: 385595

OS Northings: 205181

OS Grid: SO855051

Mapcode National: GBR 1ML.D32

Mapcode Global: VH94Y.ND0J

Entry Name: Church of Saint Alban

Listing Date: 1 May 1951

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1252662

English Heritage Legacy ID: 435706

Location: Stroud, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5

County: Gloucestershire

District: Stroud

Civil Parish: Stroud

Built-Up Area: Stroud

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Stroud Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester

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Listing Text

01-MAY-51 (North side)

1914-16, by Thomas Falconer.

Materials: Whitish limestone, pantiled roofs.

Plan: Rectangular five-bay nave, small apsidal sanctuary. Contemporaneous church room attached at the south. The entrance and hall to the north, by Peter Meers & Partners, 1982-3, are not of special interest.

Exterior: Most unexpectedly for a Cotswold wool town, the style is Byzantine. The exterior is plain to the point of severity, of coursed whitish stone. A gabled box with its sides handled in five shallow recessed panels, each containing high up a stepped three-light window with round arches. The small, low apsidal sanctuary against the east gable is blind, and has a bell-shaped semi-dome, like a Greek island chapel. At the south-east angle, a conjoined bellcote and chimney rise above the eaves. In the position of a south aisle, set hard against the pavement, is a church room, a long single-storey structure with flat parapet and seven cross-windows. Its outer wall is a survival of a parish poorhouse of 1724, with some blocked two-light mullioned windows low down. At its west end, the former main entrance, with double doors in a moulded frame, and a three-light window above, all set in a framing arch.

Interior: A simple box-like nave, with little architectural treatment other than the windows. Boarded timber roof with simple trusses. The bare rubble walls are carefully laid, with radial masonry above the windows. The panels below the windows are plastered and painted, as is the semi-dome of the apse. The easternmost bay serves as a chancel, separated from the nave by a low screen wall of bare rubble stone, with canted bays projecting either side of the central opening. Both bays have two big iron brackets on their east faces, perhaps for a removable lectern and prayer desk. The entrance from the south forms an interesting subsidiary space, with a steep staircase under a sloping groin-vault. A landing half way up gives onto a recessed vaulted bay at right angles, with the entrance doors to the church room.

Principal Fixtures: Dominating the interior is a sturdy post-and-lintel screen sitting on the chancel wall. It was redecorated in strong colours with pattern and gilding, c. 2000. It carries big flat rood figures, painted by Henry Payne, c. 1915. The stone font is big and square, tapering out at the top, with panels of guilloche ornament at the rim. Organ case and stone pulpit by Peter Falconer (Thomas's son), 1949. On the entrance staircase is a stone memorial tablet to Father A.H. Stanton, with segmental arched top. All the main doors are panelled, the upper panels glazed in attractive geometric patterns.

History : This small mission church was built as a memorial to Father A.H. Stanton, born into a family of wealthy clothiers at Thrupp in the Stroud valley (he is also remembered at St. Laurence, Stround (g.v) through the rood screen). He died on March 28, 1913 aged 74, having worked for fifty years as a curate at St Alban the Martyr, Holborn, and was regarded as `one of the most powerful preachers in London'. This and his untiring work among London's poor earned him international renown; his death merited a long report in the New York Times on the following day. The foundation stone was laid by his sister, Miss E.R. Stanton, in June 1915. Despite Stanton's high church faith, the mission church seems only to have been moderately high Anglican. Since 1999 the church has been shared with a Methodist congregation. A reordering c. 2000 removed the 19th century bench pews imported from St Laurence, Stroud in 1971, and Falconer's stalls of 1932, and introduced new fittings and a turquoise colour scheme. A black and white photograph at the church shows the interior post-1949; the rood screen was then plain and pale coloured.

Thomas Falconer (1880-1934) trained under George & Yeates, before setting up on his own at Amberley near Stroud in 1909. He produced solid and worthy houses in the Arts and Crafts tradition. Despite these scrupulously English credentials he produced at St Alban an intriguing Neo-Byzantine building. The choice of style was perhaps influenced by J.F. Bentley's Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral, and in broader terms by the desire to find new architectural expressions at a time when Gothic was no longer synonymous with the High Anglican movement but had become the default style for religious buildings even for Nonconformists.

Sources :
D. Verey and A. Brooks, The Buildings of England, Gloucestershire I: The Cotswolds (1999); p. 651.

Reasons for Designation : The church of St Alban, Stroud is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* It is a most unusual 20th century church for its understated architectural treatment, and for the unusual choice of the Neo-Byzantine style. Falconer manages to wrench considerable architectural impact from the simple handling of a few carefully considered materials.

* St Alban is one of the few churches completed by Thomas Falconer, a noted provincial figure in the field of Arts and Crafts architecture.

* St Alban is significant as the local memorial to Father A.H. Stanton, a noted Victorian cleric.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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