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Church of St Anne and Presbytery, Wirral

Description: Church of St Anne and Presbytery

Grade: II
Date Listed: 6 September 2012
Building ID: 1405152

OS Grid Reference: SJ3282186477
OS Grid Coordinates: 332822, 386497
Latitude/Longitude: 53.3711, -3.0111

Locality: Wirral
County: Wirral
Postcode: CH42 2BY

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Listing Text


Roman Catholic church, 1875-7, by EW Pugin. Rock-faced Storeton sandstone with ashlar dressings and a Tranmere red sandstone plinth, slate and asphalt roofs, tile ridge crests, cast-iron rainwater goods. Decorated style. Attached presbytery of 1884-5 by Peter Paul Pugin with 1960 rear extension. Red brick with ashlar and blue brick dressings, slate roof, 2-storeys with a taller ground floor. Gothic style.

Reason for Listing

St Anne's Church & Presbytery are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architects: the church was designed by the nationally significant architect, Edward Welby Pugin and completed by his brothers, Peter Paul Pugin and Cuthbert Pugin, who are themselves notable architects. The presbytery was designed by Peter Paul Pugin

* Historic interest: St Anne's Church is a good example of E W Pugin's work and represents his final ecclesiastical commission before his early death in 1875

* Architectural quality: the two buildings form a well-detailed and balanced composition; the church's finely articulated Decorated styling and dignified design being complemented by the Gothic-style presbytery

* Materials: the church's construction uses local Storeton and Tranmere sandstone; reflecting local vernacular traditions on a grand scale

* Intactness: despite some later alteration both buildings retain their original historic character and the majority of their original and early interior features

* Interior quality: the light and spacious, and richly decorated, church interior contains high quality features and fittings, including decorative encaustic tiled floors, a lavish High Altar and ornate side chapel altars, a striking marble font, an organ with a case designed by Peter Paul Pugin, and original light fittings


St Anne's Church, Highfield Road was constructed in 1875-7 to the designs of Edward Welby Pugin (1834-75), who trained under his father, the renowned Victorian architect, Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-52), and was his final ecclesiastical commission before his early death in 1875. Following Pugin's death the work was completed to his designs by his brothers, Peter Paul Pugin (1851-1904) and Cuthbert Pugin (1840-1928), although Pugin's planned south-west tower was never built due to concerns about the weight of the tower on the church's foundations. The attached presbytery was constructed in 1884-5 to the designs of Peter Paul Pugin and extended to the rear in 1960 to the designs of J.G.R. Sheridan of Messrs Edmund Kirby & Sons of Liverpool.

The church was constructed at a cost of £7000 (excluding furnishings) for a religious order known as the Oblates of St Mary Immaculate (OMI), who served the parish of St Anne's Parish until September 2010 when they transferred the church and presbytery to the Diocese of Shrewsbury. The church's foundation stone was laid on 9 May 1875 by the Right Reverend Dr Brown, Bishop of Shrewsbury, and the church was opened on 28 October 1877, although furnishing works carried on into subsequent years as funds permitted. Various elements of the building and its furnishings were donated by individual benefactors. Side aisles were added in 1934 due to an increasing congregation and the need for extra space, and the sanctuary was re-ordered in the 1980s.


Roman Catholic church, 1875-7, by EW Pugin. Rock-faced Storeton sandstone with ashlar dressings and a Tranmere red sandstone plinth, slate and asphalt roofs, tile ridge crests, cast-iron rainwater goods. Decorated style. Attached presbytery of 1884-5 by Peter Paul Pugin with 1960 rear extension. Red brick with ashlar and blue brick dressings, slate roof, 2-storeys with a taller ground floor. Gothic style.

PLAN: The church is aligned east-west with the chancel located at the west (ritual east) end. It has a cruciform plan with later side aisles, and the presbytery is L-shaped. The following geographical references in the description of the church only will be referred to in their ritual sense.


CHURCH: St Anne's Church is a substantial building with deep roofs with cross finials of varying design, double-width transepts and a very tall chancel. All the windows have hoodmoulds with plain bosses and the main, larger windows all have geometrical tracery. Large rose windows of varying design exist to the transepts, chancel and side chapels.

The church's west end elevation is mainly formed by the nave's west gable end, which has angled buttresses and a slightly projecting central bay that incorporates the principal west entrance. This consists of a large, moulded-arched doorway with a carved tympanum set above heavy oak doors with decorative strap hinges. The doorway has a carved hoodmould with floriated bosses, which is flanked by two small quatrefoils containing carved shield reliefs. Above the west entrance is a carved, stylised Latin inscription that runs the full width of the projecting bay and is enclosed by two narrow, projecting ashlar bands. Flanking the inscription to the outer bays are tall canopied niches containing statues of the Virgin Mary and St John to the left and right respectively. Two tall windows, each incorporating two lancets with trefoil-arched heads and quatrefoils above, form the west window. Set in between the windows and rising above them is a life-size statue of Christ the Redeemer on a 10ft high decorated cross. To the right of the nave's west end is a 2-storey, south-west porch with a pyramidal roof that was originally intended to form a tower, but the tower was never realised. The porch has a lower, moulded-arched doorway with similar doors to the west entrance and a carved hoodmould with floriated bosses. Above the doorway is a tall, decorative canopied niche containing a statue of the church's patroness, St Anne and an infant Jesus Christ, and flanked by two quatrefoils containing plain shield reliefs.

The nave is lit by three, large, trefoil-traceried windows to each side. Attached in front to each side are low, flat-roofed side aisles added in 1934 with no windows; that to the south side abuts the SW porch, which has full-height buttresses and is lit by small quatrefoil windows to the ground floor and tall cusped-headed windows to the upper floor. All the porch's windows are set within square surrounds and have relieving arches above. The north side aisle abuts a low, cross-gabled, baptistery at the western end, which is lit by a tall window in a similar style to those of the west window to the north side, and short, paired, trefoil-arched lancets to the west return.
The north and south transepts are double-width and gabled and have traceried windows to the west side in the same style as those to the nave. Large, paired, traceried windows light the gable ends, which also have a rose window to the apex. Abutting the upper part of each transept and cutting vertically across the rose windows are emergency concrete buttresses constructed in 1935 due to serious structural movement within the church.

Attached to the east side of the transepts, and flanking the western half of the chancel, are lower, single-width side chapels with rose windows set within the east gable ends and three trefoil-arched lancets to the side walls. The chancel rises above the nave and transepts with a large rose window set high to the east end with a row of six quatrefoils below. The two side elevations are lit by tall, 3-light traceried windows with blind arcading beneath.

PRESBYTERY: Like the church the presbytery also has cast-iron rainwater goods and relieving arches to some of the windows. Substantial chimneystacks rise from the roof and ridges, and most of the windows contain 1-over-1 sashes.

Front (east) elevation: The front elevation faces Highfield Road and is of 4-bays with ashlar quoining up to first floor level and sill bands to both floors. A wide bay to the far left projects forward and incorporates a 2-storey canted bay window with ashlar dressings and chamfered mullions. The central section of the bay window's roof is raised to form a pent roof and incorporates four small, trefoil-arched lancets to the front face with leaded glazing. The elevation's two central bays have windows to each floor; those to the first floor have ashlar lintels and replaced uPVC glazing. The bay to the far right incorporates an integral, lean-to, entrance porch at ground floor level with a basket-arched, doorway opening with an ashlar head and an adjacent single lancet window. The porch contains a tessarae floor with lettering to the centre that reads 'OMI'. Above and behind the porch is a gabled first floor, which is lit by a rose window and surmounted by a cross finial; this is a first-floor chapel. All the ground floor windows to the front elevation have a double brickwork band and relieving arches above in blue brick. These are replicated to the side elevations of the original part of the presbytery.

Left (south) side elevation: This elevation is of 7-bays, with three wider bays to the right representing the original extent of the presbytery, and the four bays to the left being a later extension added in 1960. The rear extension is of common brick and has a single sash window to each floor of the three left bays, and a triple sash window to the ground floor of bay-4. The window to the first floor above has replaced uPVC glazing. Bay-5 is wide and gabled, and projects forward with a large 4-light window to the ground floor with chamfered mullions and sashes, and a smaller triple-light window in the same style to the first floor above. The two bays to the far right have single sash windows to each floor. These three original bays have windows with ashlar sills and lintels and banding detailing in blue brick, which is replicated on the north side elevation.

Right (north) side elevation: This elevation has two windows to each floor; those to the first floor light the chapel and contain Art Nouveau-style, leaded glazing. Attached to the rear right of the elevation is part of the flat-roofed sacristy, which abuts the north side aisle and is constructed of the same materials as the rest of the church.

Rear (west) elevation: The presbytery's 2-bay rear elevation is of painted brick and faces into a small yard area. The left bay is set back from the main wall face with sash windows to the ground floor and half-landing level, and a quatrefoil window to the first floor lighting the chapel. The right bay is much wider and has three-light windows to each floor with chamfered mullions and replaced glazing. Enclosing the yard to the south side is the north elevation of the rear extension, which has sash and casement windows, a small, single-storey lean-to attached to the western end, and a doorway with a modern uPVC door. To the north and west sides of the yard are single-storey outbuildings and the sacristy.


CHURCH: Internally the church has plastered walls, a floorboard floor in the nave, a tiled floor in the narthex and former baptistery, and parquet floors in the side aisles. The original gas lamp fittings also survive, although they are now electrified.

The south-west entrance porch has exposed Storeton stone walls and contains a marble and ashlar piscina to the east wall, which is flanked by a store cupboard and door leading up to the organ gallery; both doors have shouldered heads and large strap hinges. A stone winder stair leads up to the organ gallery, which spans the full width of the nave and has a pierced timber balustrade with rose motif decoration. The organ (installed 1900) is by Messrs Abbott & Smith of Leeds and is contained within a pitch pine case designed by Peter Paul Pugin.

Another similarly styled piscina to that in the south-west porch is located in the narthex, which is fully glazed to the east side. The former baptistery at the northern end of the narthex is now used as a small shop, but retains its original gates by Messrs Hardman, Powell & Co, which incorporate part of a line from Psalm 50 (Misere mei Deus) in stylised gilded lettering; that to the left reads 'Amplius lava me', whilst that to the right reads 'ab iniquitate mea' - together they read 'Wash me thoroughly from my wickedness'. The former baptistery has a decorative tiled floor representing the Holy Ghost and Purity, which was designed by EW Pugin and executed by the Campbell Tile Company of Stoke on Trent & London. The font was removed in the c1970s and is now located in the south transept.

The nave has a boarded, pitch-pine roof incorporating diaphragm arches carried on short ashlar colonnettes with floriated capitals and supported by carved angel corbels. To each side of the nave the windows are set within a Gothic arcade. The later side aisles (1934) are entered from the transepts and nave via inserted openings with square, shouldered heads. Each side aisle is lit by rectangular rooflights and contains a series of confessionals set alongside the external wall. Both aisles also contain ornate marble shrines inserted in 1953; that to the north side aisle contains an altar dedicated to St Anne, whilst that to the south side is dedicated to St Teresa. Each marble altar is surmounted by a statue of the respective saint flanked by arched stone reliefs inset into the rear marble wall. The Stations of the Cross (1907) adorning the nave piers and transepts were designed by Peter Paul Pugin and executed by Aloys De Beule (1861-1935) of Ghent. The Stations were originally located on the nave's side walls until the addition of the side aisles in 1934.

The transepts and chancel both have Storeton stone arches; those to the transept entrances are paired and each incorporate a dividing column of red Cork marble with a carved ashlar base and floriated capital. Each transept contains a corbelled, painted concrete flying buttress, added in 1935 at the same time as the external buttresses. The south transept also contains the font (1888), which is constructed of various marbles and is by J Currie of London. The font is octagonal with carved quatrefoil roundels to each face supported by a clustered, detached-colonnette base with oversized bases and capitals. Its wooden lid incorporates decorative metal strapwork. Double doors in the north wall of the north transept lead into the sacristy, which is lit by skylights and contains original safes.

The chancel arch incorporates tall canopied niches containing near life-size statues of the Sacred Heart and Our Blessed Lady to the left and right respectively. A second, taller and narrower arch behind flanks the High Altar and incorporates engaged columns with stiff-leaf capitals. The chancel has exposed Storeton stone walls and arches to each side, which lead into the side chapels. Canopied niches adjacent to the arches contain statues of St Thomas of Canterbury and St Patrick to the left and right respectively. To the north and south sides of the chancel are short sections of the altar rails (1932 - the remaining sections were removed during the 1980s re-ordering of the chancel), which were designed by CHC Purcell of Pugin & Pugin and are of coloured marble with partly gilded, mosaic inlay panels.

The ornate High Altar (1879-80) was designed by Pugin & Pugin (possibly Cuthbert Pugin) and executed by RL Boulton of Cheltenham, and has a canopied reredos of Caen stone with marble and Mexican onyx dressings, including columns and gilded quatrefoils, and six sculptured panels depicting adoring angels. To the centre is a partly gilded tabernacle with stylised lettering to the front and side faces reading 'SANCTUS'. The original altar table (mensa) was removed following re-ordering in the 1980s. The High Altar's curtain cranes and metalwork on the tabernacle are all by Messrs John Hardman & Co of Birmingham. The east rose window (1878) above is by Messrs JV Rowland & Co of Liverpool and contains stained glass depicting The Glorious Mysteries with a series of six, stained-glass quatrefoils below. Flanking the High Altar and east window are canopied niches containing statues of St Joachim and St James to the left and right respectively.

The two side chapels contain Caen stone and marble altars and reredoses, and stained glass windows added in the mid-late C20 (originally the windows contained plain leaded glazing). The north Lady Altar (1888) was designed by Pugin & Pugin and executed by RL Boulton of Cheltenham, and incorporates an ornate, canopied reredos containing a near life-size statue of the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus Christ flanked by sculptured panels. The antipendium (altar frontal) incorporates further sculptured panels with ogee-arched heads and pierced quatrefoil decoration, and the chapel has a highly decorative, encaustic tiled floor. The south St Joseph's Altar (1896) was designed by Peter Paul Pugin and was also executed by RL Boulton of Cheltenham. The altar, which overall is less ornate than the Lady Altar, also has a richly carved antipendium and has a narrower, canopied reredos incorporating spirelets and a near life-size statue of St Joseph set above a tabernacle and flanked by traceried panels with marble inlay.

PRESBYTERY: Internally the presbytery has encaustic tiled floors to the principal, ground floor circulation spaces and parquet floors to the rest of the building (some hidden under later coverings), panelled pitch-pine doors with segmental-arched architraves, plain moulded cornicing and some ceiling roses and panelled dados. Some original fireplaces survive to both floors with marble and timber surrounds; the latter being located in the rear service rooms. The presbytery has a large, central stair hall top-lit by a small, square roof lantern, with rooms arranged off to each side. The hall contains a polished pitch-pine, open-well stair with a pierced geometric balustrade and a half-landing level. The rear extension contains a tall, narrow corridor to the ground floor with small rooms (originally for the domestic staff) off to each side. The first floor landing is galleried to the south side. Off to the north-east corner of the first floor is a small chapel with a ribbed roof and a rose window flanked below by two Gothic-arched, statue niches. A shelf alongside the north wall also forms the sills of the two windows on this side. Some of the presbytery's first-floor rooms have original built-in cupboards and Gothic-arched alcoves, and a room to the south-east corner has been partitioned. The first floor of the rear extension contains bedrooms and bathrooms.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: The church is enclosed to the front by a low, rock-faced sandstone wall incorporating intermediary, stepped piers linked by painted metal railings. In line with the church's west entrance are two, square gate piers with chamfered corners and shaped octagonal caps flanking low, painted metal gates. Both piers incorporate recessed panels to the front face with stylised, relief lettering reading 'ST ANNE'S/ CHURCH'. Attached to the left end of the wall is a similarly styled, later, painted metal gate, which provides access to the presbytery's driveway and entrance. Enclosing the presbytery to the front is a mellow red brick wall incorporating blind, recessed panels and ashlar dressings.

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