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Burslem United Reformed Church (Formerly Woodall Memorial Congregational Church)

A Grade II Listed Building in Stoke-on-Trent, City of Stoke-on-Trent

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Latitude: 53.0458 / 53°2'44"N

Longitude: -2.1952 / 2°11'42"W

OS Eastings: 387009

OS Northings: 349858

OS Grid: SJ870498

Mapcode National: GBR MG2.CN

Mapcode Global: WHBCM.7PXV

Plus Code: 9C5V2RW3+8W

Entry Name: Burslem United Reformed Church (Formerly Woodall Memorial Congregational Church)

Listing Date: 13 December 2010

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1396377

English Heritage Legacy ID: 508453

ID on this website: 101396377

Location: Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST6

County: City of Stoke-on-Trent

Electoral Ward/Division: Burslem Central

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Stoke-on-Trent

Traditional County: Staffordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Staffordshire

Church of England Parish: Sneyd Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Tagged with: Memorial

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Burslem United Reformed Church

(Formerly Woodall Memorial Congregational Church)



A church of 1905/6 by Absalom Reade Wood.

MATERIALS: Red and brown brick, and red Hollington sandstone block. The windows across the building have sandstone architraves and fenestration. The roofs are covered in slate. Railings and rainwater goods are cast and wrought iron.

PLAN: The church is laid out with a main, rectangular central space for worship, with east and west aisles. At the north end is a gallery with additional congregation space below, now separate from the main space via an inserted glazed partition. To the north-east and north-west are stairs to the gallery. In the north-east and north-west corners are lobbies, the latter adapted for other uses. To the west is a corridor and vestry wing.

EXTERIOR: The red brick and sandstone road front is an imposing, two-storey elevation, with attic and four-storey bell tower. The four-bay, central section stands forward of the bays either side, between square, sandstone columns. There is a large, central window to the first floor, with tracery, a Romanesque-detailed round-arch, and keystone. Small, square, two-light windows are positioned either side, to form a Venetian window. Pilasters carry the arch, and between them is a decorated stone tablet with a bronze relief of William Woodall, the work of Stanley Thorogood A.R.C.A (1873-1953). Either side of the relief, the tablet is inscribed "Congregational Church", with "Woodall Memorial" below. There are four ground-floor casement windows, of two/three lights, with mullions, elliptical arches and keystones. Above a dentil eaves cornice is a pedimented parapet, with stone finials on top of the columns at each end, and a central, oval window in the centre of the gable, with elaborate decoration. To the left, is a lower, two-storey, stairwell bay with a curved, pitched roof and twin finials, and further left, a single-storey bay with a door entrance. The right bays include a four-storey bell tower, incorporating a two-storey stairwell, and a two-storey bay with another door entrance. The bell tower has a round-arched window at first floor level, with a 1905 inscription set within a stone tablet above. Also set in the fa├žade are three stone tablets with the inscriptions: "Laid by C.W. Carlick Esq. of Wolstanton 5th October 1905"; "Laid by Councillor S. Gibson of Burslem 5th October 1905"; and "Laid by Corbet Woodall Esq. of London in memory of the late Wm. Woodall". The copper-domed roof, with finial, stands above a projecting dentil eaves cornice and the upper bell level is built of coursed sandstone, with stone-mullioned openings. The ground-floor doorcases have sandstone dressings. The facade has stone banding at first floor level, a stone plinth above the ground level, and the windows have coloured-glass panes. The red brick boundary wall has been repaired in places, and has replacement iron railings, constructed to the original specifications.

The west flank is red and brown brick. The original entrance to the vestry has been infilled and adapted using modern materials. There are three round-arched clerestorey windows above, and the single-storey vestry wing extends to the west boundary, with stone-dressed window openings, and a stone parapet. The east flank is brown brick, with a single-storey, lean-to projection of three bays with openings. Above are three round-arched clerestorey windows, with brick arches. At the south end of the elevation are stone steps leading down to a cellar door and coal opening. There are a number of tie plates across the elevation. The rear elevation is brown brick, with a centrally-positioned, round-arched, window to the first floor, with a brick arch and heavy tracery. The three window openings to the ground floor are sealed. An angular, brick, chimney-breast rises to the roof on the left side. The rear of the vestry range projects from the left.

INTERIOR: The rectangular congregation space has a raised stage to the south with oak choir seating and oak panelling. Above the panelling, a large, traceried window has rich, decorative, coloured panes depicting The Sermon on the Mount, and with emblems of the Evangelists, and the inscription BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART FOR THEY SHALL SEE GOD. It is the work of Williams Brothers and Co. Underneath the stage is the original boiler, converted from coke to oil power. To the right are a pulpit of stone and oak, and an oak-panelled organ of 1910. Fittings include curved, radiating, oak pews with bronze handrails/umbrella rails to each side and heating pipes at floor level. Bronze drip-trays at lower level have been removed. The floor level slopes gently to the south. Two-bay, stone arcades, comprising three columns with decorated capitals, stand to each side. Both have a partitioned bay to the north. The left bay in the east aisle now forms an office. The left bay in the west aisle provides storage space and toilet facilities. The ceiling of the hall is barrel-vaulted with moulded ribs, standing on decorative corbels. The area is floored with blockwork of pitch pine. At the north end, there is a balcony to the gallery, with a glazed, partitioned, space below. To the left and right are original double doorways with upper, coloured glazing, bronze handles and finger plates. They lead to the principal church entrances and stairs to the gallery. The stairs have decorative balustrades with timber handrails. At the top of the left stair is a storage room, formerly a book store, with access to the bell tower. The pew seating in the gallery is pine, and the gallery has four-panelled doors with six glazed lights above. The lobby to the north-east entrance has caustic tile flooring beneath modern linoleum. The original north-west entrance to the church has been blocked and partitioned to form a disabled toilet, and a modern west entrance has been created around the former vestry entrance. The west entrance incorporates a re-ordered corridor that leads to modern kitchen facilities, a meeting area and cloakrooms, and an entrance into the main hall, next to the organ. The meeting area has an exposed king-post roof truss.

Woodall Memorial Congregational Church was built in 1905/6, to the designs of Absalom Reade Wood (1851-1922), a long-established architect of civic and domestic buildings in the area, notably Tunstall Town Hall (1883-5) and Burslem School of Art (1908), both listed at Grade II. The church was officially opened in October 1906, and named in memory of William Woodall (1832-1901), the Liberal MP for Stoke-on-Trent and Hanley. Woodall was a notable social reformer who served the Gladstone government and, as leader of the House of Commons women's suffrage group, and chairman of the Central Committee for Women's Suffrage, made a number of attempts to put anti-suffrage Bills through parliament in the late C19. He had risen through the political ranks of Burslem in the 1860s and '70s, while establishing himself as a successful industrialist, as a manager in the gas, pottery and coal trades. He was a vigorous campaigner for a number of social causes, including the improvement of technical education, and was the driving force behind the creation and development of the Wedgwood Institute (1869, listed at Grade II*). A lifelong Congregationalist, Woodall had long encouraged the building of a new Congregationalist church in the town. The church was named after the former MP as a fitting memorial to his commitment to the town, the congregation, and the Congregationalist movement in general.

The church is shown on the Ordnance Survey Map of 1925 (3rd Edition), with a terraced row of dwellings attached to the south-east corner of the building. The attached buildings are not shown on the 1937 edition. Woodall Memorial Congregational Church was renamed Burslem United Reformed Church in 1984. The United Reformed Church had been formed in 1972 by a union between most Congregational churches in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England. Other denominations joined the church in later years. Internal changes to the church were carried out c1990. In 2009, the church was partly refurbished.

C Fell-Smith, William Woodall 1832-1901, Dictionary of National Biography (2004)
D Stuart (Ed.), People of the Potteries (1985), 235-6

Newspaper articles:
Staffordshire Advertiser, 7th October 1905
Staffordshire Advertiser, 20th October 1906

Congregational Church (Woodall Memorial), Burslem; Centenary Souvenir 1821-1921, 14-15

Burslem United Reformed Church (Formerly Woodall Memorial Congregational Church), Moorland Road, Burslem, of 1905/6, and designed by A R Wood is designated at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural: the church is built to an accomplished and unusual design, using quality materials and craftsmanship.
* Historical: the building has clear links to William Woodall, Liberal MP and social reformer.
* Intactness: the building is largely intact in its original form.
* Artistic: the finely-crafted interior, and details to the exterior, are of a high standard and include a relief of Woodall by Stanley Thorogood and a choir window by Williams Brothers and Co.

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