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Church of St John the Baptist (Roman Catholic), Timperley

Description: Church of St John the Baptist (Roman Catholic)

Grade: II
Date Listed: 9 September 2011
English Heritage Building ID: 1404378

OS Grid Reference: SJ7895388570
OS Grid Coordinates: 378953, 388571
Latitude/Longitude: 53.3936, -2.3179

Location: 26 Thorley Lane, Timperley WA15 7BD

Locality: Timperley
County: Trafford
Country: England
Postcode: WA15 7BD

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Listing Text


Roman Catholic Church, 1958-9, by Francis Reynolds, buff/light brown brick with red brick and sandstone dressings, deep roof with 'Lombardic' tile coverings and sprocketed eaves, stripped Perpendicular Gothic style.

Reason for Listing

St John the Baptist RC Church, Thorley Lane, Timperley, of 1958-9, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural quality: it has a bold and finely articulated design employing the use of stripped Perpendicular Gothic styling, which blends modern and traditional influences to successful effect and uses high quality materials, including buff brickwork, stone dressings and a Lombardic tile roof to produce a strong level of architectural detailing
* Architect: it was designed by the notable architect, Francis Reynolds who along with his partner, Adrian Gilbert Scott specialised in ecclesiastical commissions for the Roman Catholic Church
* Intactness: it is little altered and retains the majority of its original features
* Interior quality: the interior has an impressive sense of space enhanced by a series of parabolic arches (a key characteristic of Reynolds & Scott's work), and contains good quality fixtures and fittings, including a mosaic-filled baptistery and a dramatically styled main altar, massive marble reredos and painted tester


St John the Baptist RC Church was constructed in 1958-9 to the designs of Francis Reynolds of Reynolds & Scott architects of Manchester at a cost of approximately £50,000. The parish of St John the Baptist was established in 1957 when 'Glendarael', a house on Thorley Lane, Timperley and its grounds were bought by the Diocese of Shrewsbury. St John the Baptist RC Church was constructed in the grounds and the house was converted into a presbytery. The church remained in active use until 2009 when it closed for worship following the retirement of the parish priest.


Roman Catholic Church, 1958-9, by Francis Reynolds, buff/light brown brick with red brick and sandstone dressings, deep roof with 'Lombardic' tile coverings and sprocketed eaves, stripped Perpendicular Gothic style

PLAN: church is aligned north-south with an integral narthex to the south end. A baptistery is located at the west end of the narthex. South-west porch. Nave with side chapels in transepts set to the northern end. A short north tower rises above the sanctuary.

EXTERIOR: the church incorporates tall, geometric-patterned, stained and leaded glass windows to all the elevations; some with stripped Perpendicular-style tracery. The church's transepts, baptistery and south-east porch are gabled and share the same sprocketed eaves as the nave roof. They also have kneelers constructed from layered tiles.

East elevation: the east (front) elevation is of a long 7-bays with a porch set to the southern end incorporating a large doorway with a segmental arched head, stepped intrados and jambs, and recessed double doors with decorative strap hinges. Above the entrance is an arched stone niche containing a statue of St John the Baptist carrying a lamb and holding a cross staff. The nave is lit by four sets of paired lancet windows with segmental arched heads. A transept to the northern end of the nave forms a side chapel and is lit by a large 3-light stone window with stripped Perpendicular-style tracery. A squat tower with a blind eaves arcade and a shallow pyramidal roof surmounted by a Iona-style cross finial rises above the sanctuary. The tower is lit by a massive 4-light window in the same style as that to the adjacent side chapel but has the addition of a hoodmould. Attached in front of the tower below the east window is a single-storey, flat-roofed, block constructed of buff/light brown brick with sandstone dressings that contains the sacristies and links the church to the neighbouring presbytery. This 4-bay linking structure is lit by a 5-light and two 3-light windows set within stone surrounds. A doorway with a segmental arched head and recessed double doors with decorative strap hinges exists to the northern end. The west (rear) elevation of the link block has similarly styled doors and a series of small segmental-headed windows. The attached former presbytery is not of special interest.

South elevation: the church's gabled south elevation consists of a central doorway in the same style as that to the south-east porch with a stone panel above which follows the curve of the doorway's arch. The panel contains a colourful mosaic depicting a central Iona cross flanked by alpha and omega symbols and scrolled floral decoration. Above the doorway is a large recessed 3-light, traceried stone window identical to that lighting the north-east side chapel. Flanking the doorway are small paired lancets with stained glass borders. To the far right of the elevation is the south return of the south-east porch, which is lit by a small lancet window in the same style as those to the rest of the elevation.

West elevation: the west elevation is similarly styled to the east elevation with paired, segmental-arched lancets lighting the nave. However, those to the northern end are shorter due to the presence of a low, single-storey, flat-roofed projection in front, which contains the confessionals and is lit by a series of small segmental-arched windows incorporating stained glass crosses to the front and south return. To the far right (southern end) of the elevation is a stepped, gabled transept that forms the baptistery and has a stone to the apex incorporating a carved cross. The baptistery steps forward with another shallower, lower, gabled projection lit by small lancets with stained glass borders to the front and side returns. To the northern end of the elevation is a side chapel and the west return of the tower, which have identically styled windows to those to the east elevation. The north return of the tower is blind but incorporates a wide, shallow projection to the centre with a hipped 'Lombardic' tile roof. The projection rises half-way up the tower and marks the internal location of the sanctuary's reredos.

INTERIOR: internally the church's walls are plastered above a buff/light brown brick dado. Panelled doors exist to both the church and sacristies, some of which are partly glazed. The main body of the church, including the nave and side chapels, and the narthex have a marble terrazzo floor. The nave has a central aisle and integral side aisles and contains a series of five, tall parabolic arches; the southernmost one of which is set above a choir/organ gallery. The original pews survive and set to the northern end of the west nave wall are four confessionals. To the south end of the nave is an enclosed narthex with three doors leading out to the nave aisles and two large, 5-light, traceried timber windows with segmental arched heads. Access to the choir/organ gallery, which is set above the narthex is via an enclosed timber stair set to the south-east corner of the narthex. The choir/organ gallery has a stripped Perpendicular-style pierced balustrade to the balcony front. The organ is a later addition. The narthex has a baptistery set to the western end, which is set at a lower ground level and is enclosed by geometric-patterned metal railings and gates incorporating gold-coloured crosses. The baptistery has a mosaic floor with a wave-patterned border and a mosaic dado to the central recessed section of the west wall with a repeating ziggurat pattern. Above the dado is a tall inset mosaic panel depicting St John the Baptist baptising Jesus Christ in the River Jordan. The font has been removed. Tall arches opening off the side aisles at each northern end of the nave lead into two identically styled side chapels with simple, carved stone altars set upon stepped platforms. A polished granite pulpit and altar rails with geometric-patterned brass gates with emblematic roundels sit in front of a wide sanctuary arch. The sanctuary has blind arcades to each side; that to the east wall incorporates a door to the north end and an adjacent stone piscina. The original carved stone altar remains in its original position set upon a stepped platform to the rear of the sanctuary (a later movable altar also stands to the front) and it incorporates a gilded Chi Rho symbol to the front, which is set within a circle representing eternity. Behind the altar is a massive reredos of various marbles with a central, raised arched-head and a painted wooden tester of the same shape above. The sanctuary is a tall space that rises to form the north tower and has a vaulted ceiling. Double doors set to the north-east corner of the church lead into the single-storey block containing the sacristies, which are lit by domed skylights and have built-in cupboards.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.