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Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart and St Margaret Mary

A Grade II Listed Building in Aston, Birmingham

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.5058 / 52°30'20"N

Longitude: -1.8938 / 1°53'37"W

OS Eastings: 407306

OS Northings: 289770

OS Grid: SP073897

Mapcode National: GBR 31Z.KM

Mapcode Global: VH9YX.485X

Entry Name: Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart and St Margaret Mary

Listing Date: 2 February 2009

Last Amended: 29 October 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393309

English Heritage Legacy ID: 495569

Location: Birmingham, B6

County: Birmingham

Electoral Ward/Division: Aston

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Birmingham

Traditional County: Warwickshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

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Summary


A Roman Catholic church, dating from 1922-1934, by George Bernard Cox of Harrison Cox Architects of Birmingham, with interior decoration by R L Boulton of Cheltenham, J Linthout of Bruges and Ludwig Oppenheimer and Co. of Manchester. The Rectory, 85 Prestbury Road, Birmingham, to the east of the church building, is not of special architectural or historic interest.

Description


A Roman Catholic church, dating from 1922-1934, by George Bernard Cox of Harrison Cox Architects of Birmingham, with interior decoration by R L Boulton of Cheltenham, J Linthout of Bruges and Ludwig Oppenheimer and Co. of Manchester.

MATERIALS: the church is constructed from brindle brick, laid in Flemish bond with stone dressings, under a clay pantile roof. The interior has a wealth of decorative materials, including marbles, mosaic, coloured glass and stone, particularly at the eastern end.

PLAN: the church is oriented north east-south west, and is cruciform on plan, with nave and chancel, north and south transepts, a north-western tower and north and south aisles. The chancel has an apsidal end, as does the Lady Chapel in the east end of the north aisle. The vestry and sacristy are situated at the east end of the south aisle, projecting eastwards.

EXTERIOR: the building is Italian Romanesque in style, with a five-stage campanile at the south west corner; this has tripartite blind arcading and dentilled string courses, and a good statue of Christ blessing by Gibbs and Canning of Tamworth; the arcades in the bell chamber are open. The high nave has a clerestory of four bays, with a blind arcade housing smaller, round-arched windows with perpendicular tracery based on round arches, set under banded dressings of stone and brick. There are low aisles, with bays that are articulated by brick pilasters with stone caps. Small rectangular windows, shielded by stone traceried screens, are set in the upper wall. The eastern end of the chancel and Lady Chapel have semi-domes. There are gabled transepts, that to the north having a tripartite window set in stone dressings with a banded arch above. The lean-to narthex at the west end houses the main entrance, which has a gabled doorway with a mosaic of the crucified Christ in the tympanum and a carved stone armorial above. The west window is tripartite, three round headed lancets with dressings of alternating brick and stone.

INTERIOR: the interior of the church is Byzantine in inspiration, with monolithic, marble piers with crisply carved cushion capitals forming the five-bay, round-arched arcades. The roof is a continuous barrel vault, with timbers springing from carved stone corbels; a dentil string course runs above the arcade, broken by the high crossing arches and the chancel arch. The structure is of brick with stone dressings. The floor is parquet work beneath the pews, but with terrazzo set in a guilloche pattern to the centre of the nave and aisles. The sanctuary is dominated by the rainbow coloured half-dome, set with mosaic tiles in fish scale patterns; below this, all the surfaces are clad in marble and decorated with mosaic panels with gold grounds depicting saints, and a large and fine mosaic panel showing the risen Christ appearing to the C17 visionary, Sister Margaret Mary, as the altarpiece. The marble altar is richly decorated, and set at the top of a flight of marble steps, which lead up from the marble and brass altar rail with uprights echoing the fish scale pattern in the half-dome. This theme continues in the glazing and doors throughout the church. The Lady Chapel, at the east end of the north aisle, has a similar half-domed sanctuary, with a deep blue mosaic ceiling, with circular lantern at its apex, and inlaid marble below. The marble altar, which is topped by a good alabaster statue of the Virgin, is set on a platform of marble raised on a marble balustrade. A second chapel to Joseph is situated at the east end of the south aisle, near the entrance to the vestry. It has a well-carved alabaster altarpiece depicting the marriage of Mary and Joseph, and the Holy Family. There is an intricate, inlaid marble pulpit. The aisles have arch-topped, mosaic panels with figures on gold grounds depicting the Stations of the Cross. Other mosaic panels showing episodes from the life of Christ are placed around the church, above entrances and doors leading to the confessionals and vestry. Above the west door is a Virgin and Child. The baptistery, at the west end, has a plain hexagonal font set on a terrazzo floor which echoes the decoration in the nave and aisles.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the church forecourt is bounded to the north east and south west by gates, piers and railings; the piers are in brick and stone to match the church and have good quality carving to the caps.

The Rectory, 85 Prestbury Road, Birmingham, to the east of the church building, is not of special architectural or historic interest.

History

The mission at Sacred Heart was established in 1897, and an iron mission church dedicated to the Sacred Heart and St Thomas of Canterbury was opened in the same year, to serve the growing population of the suburb of Aston. It was prominently situated at the corner of the newly laid out Witton Road and Prestbury Road. A church school was constructed on its own plot to the rear, but
was removed in the later C20. The current building, designed by G B Cox of the Birmingham firm of Harrison and Cox was completed and opened in 1922, and formally consecrated in 1933. The west tower, also built to the design of Cox, was added in 1934. The attached presbytery was built shortly afterwards.

The church was listed at Grade II in February 2009.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic church of the Sacred Heart and St Margaret Mary, Aston, Birmingham is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the building has an exuberant, round-arched Italianate design of good quality, dating from the 1920s by the recognised local architect, George Bernard Cox of the Birmingham firm of Harrison Cox;
* Internal decoration: the interior has a very lavish decorative scheme which incorporates extensive mosaic work by the Belgian designer J Linthout, together with work by Ludwig Oppenheimer and Co of Manchester and R L Boulton of Cheltenham, recognised designers in the national context;
* Quality of craftsmanship and degree of survival: the interior scheme demonstrates a high degree of quality in its materials and above all its craftsmanship, and remains largely unaltered since its completion.

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