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Hatherton United Reformed Church

A Grade II Listed Building in St Matthew's, Walsall

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Latitude: 52.5866 / 52°35'11"N

Longitude: -1.9797 / 1°58'46"W

OS Eastings: 401473

OS Northings: 298759

OS Grid: SP014987

Mapcode National: GBR 2F1.RN

Mapcode Global: WHBG1.K7JV

Entry Name: Hatherton United Reformed Church

Listing Date: 22 February 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1393670

English Heritage Legacy ID: 507721

Location: Walsall, WS1

County: Walsall

Electoral Ward/Division: St Matthew's

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Walsall

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: Walsall St Paul

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

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Listing Text

1690/0/10069 HATHERTON ROAD
22-FEB-10 Hatherton United Reformed Church

Presbyterian Church, Sunday School and Parish Hall, designed by John Cotton and HH McConnal in 1878 and opened in 1882. W Trow and sons were the contractors and stone carving was done by Roddis of Birmingham.
MATERIALS: Red and buff-coloured brick laid in English Bond with diapering and stone dressings and a plain tile roof.
PLAN: Aisled nave with cast iron columns to the sides and pews to the centre and sides and a northern gallery. At the south end is a dais with encased organ and choir stalls. Abutting the south end of the church is a two-storey building which houses the Sunday School at ground floor level. To this was added a first floor in 1904 which forms the parish hall, with a stage at its eastern end.

EXTERIOR: The street front onto Hatherton Road has the tower to its left. This has a square lower section which dies back via offsets to an octagonal upper body. At street level is a double doorway with arched head and tympanum and above this a lancet with cusped head. The octagonal upper stage has lancets with louvres and joined gablets to their heads. To the body of the church is a projecting gabled porch with two sets of double doors and a roundel to the apex. Above this is a three-light lancet with cusped heads to the lights and a rose to the head. The east and west flanks are similar and both have at their centre paired, gabled triple-lancets with stone surrounds, to either side of which are two-light lancet windows with a quatrefoil to the apex, set in a stone surround. The east side has had a wheelchair ramp added which connects to the minister's door at its southern end. To the south end of the church is the block which houses the Sunday School at ground floor level, with the later parish hall to the first floor. Its ridge runs east-west. The western gable end, facing Darwall Street is more richly treated and has three bays with segment-headed multi-pane windows to the ground floor with pointed relieving arches and hood moulds. To the first floor are three lancet windows with a running hood mould. In the re-entrant angle between the church and Sunday school is an angled staircase turret with cusped lancets and a tablet recording the enlargement in 1904. The east gable end is simpler, with lancets at either side of a chimney. Its south front has seven evenly-spaced windows with cambered heads to the ground floor and, to the first floor, two sets of paired lancets which rise up above the eaves and have hipped roofs. Set before these in a triangular yard are ranks of lavatory cubicles for the Sunday school children, which have lost their plumbing, but retain their lean-to roofs and the majority of their doors.

INTERIOR: The bare brick walling has patterns of polychromatic brickwork. To the lower walls is matchboarded panelling. The wooden pews and joinery of the dais, organ and the gallery all date from the late-C19 or early-C20. In the 1930s these were painted and grained in imitation of light oak. The cast iron columns are painted and have octagonal bases and moulded capitals. Each supports a wooden spur which crosses the aisle space and arched braces which connect to the purlins. Large arched braces cross the nave space and these, the spurs and the collar beams are all bratished to their upper edges. To the south end, the former sanctuary has now been adapted to form a large organ loft, the organ having painted pipes and a wooden case with cusped panels and quatrefoils. Before this is a raised dais which has seating for the elders of the congregation and a small communion table. Gas pipework appears to have been adapted to take electrical lighting, but to the back of the gallery there are two decorative, metal gasoliers which take the form of half-coronas with flares.

The Sunday School space was adapted to allow access to the upper parish room at the start of the C20 and partition walls were erected to form passages to the north and east of the space. At first-floor level the parish room has stone corbels to support the roof trusses. There are stained glass panels to the windows and matchboarding to the lower walls. The diamond-shaped window in the north wall was originally an exterior window above the altar in the church, prior to the building of the parish room at first-floor level.

HISTORY: There has been a Presbyterian congregation in Walsall since the late C17, with various breaks in its continuing story. Early meeting houses were located on other sites in the town. A revival came about in 1876 when a group seceded from the Congregationalist chapel and worshiped initially in the Temperance Hall in Freer Street. A competition for the present building was held in 1878 and won by John Cotton of Bromsgrove as the principal architect, in association with Henry Hill McConnal. The foundation stone was laid in 1881 and the building opened in May 1882. There was some re-ordering of the interior and the organ was installed in 1891. There had initially been plans to place the Sunday school beneath the church, but the high water table in the area and the need to provide robust foundations, meant that it was instead built to the south of the site. This single-storey building was also opened in 1881, but in 1904 it was raised in height to two storeys with a church hall at the first floor level. In 1926 the choir stalls at either side of the dais were again re-arranged. The building is recorded on the First Edition Ordnance Survey map of 1886 with its present footprint as the Presbyterian Church of England. From 1972 it has been known as the Hatherton United Reformed Church. In 1947 the spire was removed due the eroded condition of its stonework.

SOURCES: J McGregor-Smith, 'John Cotton, The Life of a Midlands Architect' (2002), 112-114.
P Arnold, Buildings of Walsall (2003), 120.
Victoria County History of the County of Stafford, Vol 17 Offlow Hundred (1976), 241-9.

Hatherton United Reformed Church is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* ARCHITECTURE: The church, Sunday School and Parish Hall which form the constituent parts of the building are very effectively composed by the noted architect John Cotton with carefully balanced facades on all four sides.
* INTERNAL ARRANGEMENT: The internal arrangement of the church with its wide plan and cast iron columns are indicative of its function as a Presbyterian church.
* FIXTURES AND FITTINGS: The interior is largely intact with original pews, dais and other fittings dating from 1904.
* GROUPING: The intact grouping of church, Sunday School and Parish Hall, is a relatively rare survival which gives a strong sense of the community use of the buildings.

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

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