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Hope Street, St Francis-Xavier Rc Church

A Category B Listed Building in Falkirk, Falkirk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 56.0014 / 56°0'5"N

Longitude: -3.7886 / 3°47'19"W

OS Eastings: 288553

OS Northings: 680159

OS Grid: NS885801

Mapcode National: GBR 1K.TSZD

Mapcode Global: WH5QZ.SF23

Entry Name: Hope Street, St Francis-Xavier Rc Church

Listing Date: 10 December 2010

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400545

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51649

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Falkirk

County: Falkirk

Town: Falkirk

Electoral Ward: Falkirk South

Traditional County: Stirlingshire

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Description

A R Conlon (Reginald Fairlie Partnership) 1958-61. 5-bay, rectangular-plan nave and 'saw-toothed' plan sanctuary, Modern church, with prominent towering glazed and mullioned entrance block, with tall tapered concrete fins to principal elevation and figurative sculpture (see NOTES). Squared artificial rubble ground floor, pre-cast concrete slab finish above, dry-dashed to rear and side elevations. Striking, highly decorative interior schemes with artwork by Felix McCullough.

E (PRINCIPAL ELEVATION): advanced ground floor with wide moulded architrave and steps to recessed porch at centre with 3-pairs of boarded timber doors, plaque to left with carving of Archbishop Gray's coat of arms by Hew Lorimer. Tall central block, with tapered concrete fins, figarative sculpture at base; decorative grid panelling above windows; large sculpture of St Francis Xavier by Maxwell Allen at re-entrant angle to left with stair tower set back; sculpture set below two semicircular canopies supporting a latin cross. Slightly advanced vestry block to right, moulded cill course,

N ELEVATION: advanced section to right blow stair tower with recessed entrance, replacement glazed door with sidelight; 5 square windows in vertical line to entrance tower. Tripartite square windows with wide concrete mullions and concrete surround to side aisles. Gridded windows to clerestorey. Full-height windows to chancel. 2-storey, 3-bay building abutted to left bay of nave to adjoin church with neighbouring earlier presbytery.

S ELEVATION: mirror of N elevation, except vestry block to left with 3 narrow windows at ground floor

W (REAR) ELEVATION: exposed concrete latin cross at centre; rear wall of chancel flanked by single storey offices with square headed window.

INTERIOR: (seen 2009) main entrance flanked by chapel (originally baptistery) and former mortuary chapel, both with decorative metal gates; bays of nave divided by large precast-concrete arches, N (chancel) wall of exposed red brick with thirty five gold crosses; Kenton stone altar with six bronze candlesticks designed by Conlon, containing bronze figures of Scottish saints (St Margaret, St Andrew St Ninian, St Columba, St Mungo and St John Ogilvie). Chapels in south aisle containing mosaics by the Casa group of Edinburgh; confessionals in north aisle; laminated glass panels above side aisles by Felix McCullough. Continuous stained glass panels to clearstorey (see NOTES). Choir gallery at E.

Predominantly aluminium framed windows, plate glass, some stained glass (see NOTES). Flat roof to tower, ground floor and vestry; pitched slate roof to nave, monopitch slate roof to side aisles and chancel.

Statement of Interest

place of worship in use as such. St Francis Xavier RC Church is a finely-detailed, little-altered post-war church designed by the Edinburgh based architect Alexander Ritchie Conlon to replace an earlier church which had been destroyed by fire in 1955. Its modern block design is an unusual application of exposed concrete in church architecture. The distinctive entrance tower is a culmination of leading artistic talent of the day and makes an important contribution to the streetscape. The building exhibits a fine array of interior decoration, stained glass and figurative sculpture by renowned Scottish artists, such as Elisabeth Dempster's distinctive figurative carvings of the Evangelists to the principal elevation.

Alexander Ritchie Conlon was a partner in the practice of Reginald Fairlie & Partners in Edinburgh in the 1950s. The practice were prolific designers of churches, particularly in Glasgow, such as Conlon's St Catherine Laboure RC Church, Glasgow and St Laurence RC Church and Presbytery, Glasgow (see separate listing). St Francis Xavier RC Church is a fine example of AR Conlon's church architecture.

The carved concrete figures at the base of the fins are of the 4 Evangelists depicted as lion, man, eagle and ox (symbols derived from Ezekiel 1:10), by Elisabeth Dempster. The dominant carving of St Francis Xavier was created by Maxwell Allan from a single block of Blaxter stone. The five triangular stained glassed windows to the principal elevation, by Joseph Vickers circa 1961, depict St Francis Xavier. The central band of the clerestorey gridded windows are laminated glass panels by Felix McCullough, (1964), and depict the 15 mysteries of the Rosary, the last supper and significant events in the history of the Church in Scotland. These glass panels were created by a process described as 'decorative application of automotive safety glass', a new technique at the time. McCullough also created the artwork above the side aisles which depicts the fourteen stations of the Cross. McCullough was an Edinburgh artist who created a number of works for the Roman Catholic Church, such as his murals at St Margaret Mary's RC Church, Edinburgh (see separate listing).

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