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United Methodist Free Church

A Grade II Listed Building in Picton, Liverpool

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Latitude: 53.3979 / 53°23'52"N

Longitude: -2.9383 / 2°56'17"W

OS Eastings: 337706

OS Northings: 389421

OS Grid: SJ377894

Mapcode National: GBR 7GR.CX

Mapcode Global: WH877.TVZG

Entry Name: United Methodist Free Church

Listing Date: 3 August 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1436584

Location: Liverpool, L15

County: Liverpool

Electoral Ward/Division: Picton

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Liverpool

Traditional County: Lancashire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Merseyside

Church of England Parish: Wavertree St Bridget

Church of England Diocese: Liverpool

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United Methodist Free Church, opened 1903, built in the Edwardian Italianate Baroque-style, and designed by the Liverpool architect Thomas H W Walker. The brick-built N, S and W perimeter walls protecting the basement light wells, the modern security fencing, and the basement light wells are excluded from the listing although the gate piers are included.


United Methodist Free Church, opened 1903, built in the Edwardian Italianate Baroque-style, designed by the Liverpool architect Thomas H W Walker.

MATERIALS: fair-faced red brick laid in English garden wall-bond; dark-grey brick plinth courses; stone ashlar bands, keystones, columns, voussoirs, pediments and door hood. Roof clad in Welsh slate, with red ridge tiles, together with a copper capped base of a former ventilator and a copper covered dome.

PLAN: a rectangular plan, with basement schoolrooms, aligned NW-SE. Situated on a plot of land adjacent to the N side of Lawrence Road, double-fronted with the main entrance facing Salisbury Street and rear entrance facing Alderson Street.

EXTERIOR: the asymmetric W (main) elevation has a pediment above a round-arched, 4-panel, leaded, stained-glass W window that is flanked by plain brick pilasters. A projecting ground-floor vestibule is lit by four round-arched windows, set between a pedimented porch approached by a flight of stone steps to the N, and to the S by a square-plan tower with an octagonal lantern drum emphasised by ashlar scroll buttresses that alternate between the window openings, surmounted by a copper clad bell-shaped dome. The tower houses the main entrance, which is approached by a flight of stone steps and has a large pair of panelled doors beneath a semi-circular fanlight, which is set within a semi-circular ashlar hood supported on scroll brackets.

The N and S side elevations are built using pier and panel construction with a projecting brick eaves courses. Each side has four wide and one narrow round-arched windows that illuminate the interior of the main body of the church. The windows have leaded stained glass panels set in frames with slender tracery incorporating Ionic columns, and have ashlar cills and aprons. The basement schoolrooms are illuminated by paired windows with flat ashlar lintels. A foundation stone that reads: THIS STONE WAS LAID BY / THE RIGHT HON. THE LORD MAYOR / OF LIVERPOOL. / W. WATSON RUTHERFORD ESQ. / NOVEMBER 22nd 1902. is set in the wall beneath the S window of the tower. An ashlar porch supported by plain columns and approached by stone steps, is set in the re-entrant angle between the main body of the church and the projecting pedimented end bay of the rear entrance range.

The asymmetric E elevation of the rear entrance range has an entrance block with plain corner pilasters and two pairs of doors set in a round brick arch beneath a 6-light, segmental semi-circular fanlight. A colonnade of 4 round-arched windows, below a pedimented gable, lights the stairs and a corridor to the first-floor rooms. The entrance block is flanked to the S by a 2-bay range and to the N by a single-bay range with a canted corner. Each bay has a window to the ground-floor and to the basement.

INTERIOR: the body of the church is filled with three rows of timber pews, the central rows with staggered off-set dividing panels. The N, S, and W walls have panelled wainscoting. The E wall has a recessed organ loft, decorated with a moulded architrave and plain engaged columns to the rear of a panelled choir / organ gallery. The organ is housed on the choir/organ gallery in a panelled organ case that has a fretwork frieze supported on timber posts and ball finials. The organ keyboard is situated in a sunken pit to the front of the timber panelled segmental-plan pulpit, which is accessed by a timber stair with turned balusters. Behind the pulpit is wooden panelling rising to the base of the choir gallery. The plaster ceiling is canted with simple moulded decorative panels set between the bases of four partially exposed roof trusses. Four decorative pendant ceiling roses are situated along the central axis of the ceiling. Photographs of the interior of the various offices, meeting rooms, lobbies, corridors and school rooms have been posted on the internet; they indicate that most of the rooms are relatively un-adorned, that the first-floor office room within the rear entrance block is accessed by a staircase and corridor with a parquet timber flooring, and that the ceilings of the basement schoolrooms are supported on plain round cast-iron pillars.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: three sweeping stairs over the basement light wells, flanked by brick walls terminating in brick gate posts, give access to the two entrances in the W elevation and to a side entrance in the S elevation.

The brick-built N, S and W perimeter walls protecting the basement light wells, the modern security fencing, and the basement light wells are excluded from the listing.

The list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment on 28/09/2016


The church was built to a design by the Liverpool architect Thomas H W Walker. The foundation stone was laid on 22 November 1902 by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, the Right Honourable W Watson Rutherford Esq. The church is thought to have opened for worship in 1903, to serve the Methodist community of the burgeoning streets of terraced housing being built in Wavertree at the turn of the C20.

The church is situated in a prominent position towards the W end of Lawrence Road and in close proximity to the Church of St Dunstan’s (Aldridge and Deacon, 1886, Grade II), the Church of St Bridget’s (E A Heffer, 1872, Grade II*) and the unlisted Church of St Hugh of Lincoln (Pugin and Pugin, 1904). The church was built for the Methodist movement and bears comparison with the contemporary work of the City Architect Thomas Shelmerdine, who designed the Carnegie Library, Lister Drive of 1904.

The church finally closed in 2004 and it is currently (2016) disused and unoccupied.

Reasons for Listing

The United Methodist Free Church of 1902-03 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: the church has a well-detailed Italian Baroque exterior with a 3-stage tower and dome, decorative Art Nouveau leaded and stained-glass, and carved stone tracery;

* Interior survival: the church retains its original Methodist auditory plan with a range of good-quality fixtures and fittings including timber pews, pulpit, organ gallery and organ;

* Group value: the church forms part of a strong group of unlisted, listed GII and GII* High Victorian and Edwardian churches built along a single thoroughfare.

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