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Presbytery of Roman Catholic Church of St Werburgh, Cheshire West and Chester

Description: Presbytery of Roman Catholic Church of St Werburgh

Grade: II
Date Listed: 26 September 2013
Building ID: 1414964

OS Grid Reference: SJ4113866346
OS Grid Coordinates: 341138, 366343
Latitude/Longitude: 53.1909, -2.8824

Locality: Cheshire West and Chester
County: Cheshire West and Chester
Postcode: CH1 1QJ

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Listing Text


Presbytery to Roman Catholic Church of St Werburgh, c1875 to designs by Edmund Kirby. Free Gothic style. Red brick with blue brick decoration, Westmorland slate roofs.

Reason for Listing

The presbytery to the Roman Catholic Church of St Werburgh, Chester, of c1875 by Edmund Kirby, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architect: the presbytery is designed by the notable Catholic architect Edmund Kirby, who has many listed buildings to his name including St Werburgh's Church;
* Architectural interest: designed in a free Gothic style with careful attention to massing and proportions, with a steep and deep roof, dormers, and picturesque grouping of rows of tall, decorative brick chimneys, and Domestic Revival detailing such as brick diaperwork and hung tiles, the presbytery compliments the nearby listed buildings by John Douglas, for whom Kirby had previously worked as an assistant;
* Interior: the presbytery retains a legible layout of a number of individual sitting rooms with small interconnecting bedrooms for the priests and separate quarters for the housekeeper, with many original fixtures and fittings including doors and architraves throughout, staircase, many timber mantelpieces, wooden window shutters, and moulded cornices;
* Group value: the presbytery stands in a prominent location on Grosvenor Park Road and has group value with the Grade II listed stone church. The building is also in close proximity with the Grade II Park Lodge opposite and the Grade II* row of houses at 6-11 Grosvenor Park Road, both by John Douglas.


By the 1860s the Catholic population of Chester had outgrown the late-C18 chapel on Queen Street, and a site for a new, larger church was offered near Grosvenor Park by the brothers Michael and Jonathan Harnett. Plans were drawn up by Edmund Kirby and the church foundation stone was laid in 1873. It opened for use in 1875. Much of the cost of the church and the adjoining presbytery, also designed by Kirby, was met by members of the Harnett family.


PLAN: three storeys and basement. Single-storey link range attaching the presbytery to the church. Reception rooms, kitchen and house-keeper's sitting room on ground floor. Sitting rooms with small bedrooms off on the first and second floors.

EXTERIOR: a picturesque gable wall faces south onto the street. The ground and first floors are built of red brick in Flemish bond with bands of blue brick diaperwork and a corbelled brick eaves band at first-floor level. On the left-hand side of the ground floor is a four-light, stone mullioned window. The first floor has two segmental-arched windows each with three one-over-one pane sashes set in timber frames. The second floor is set entirely within the steeply-pitched roof. The gable apex projects slightly on timber brackets and is hung with red tiles. The rest of the gable is rendered and painted white. There is a central canted, timber oriel window with sash lights. Set to either side of the roof ridge are two rows of very tall, decorative brick chimneys, with five stacks to the west side and four stacks to the east side. The three-bay east elevation faces onto a garden area on the south side of the church and is linked to the church by a two-bay single-storey range to the right. The presbytery is of two storeys with a wide, central dormer with a hipped roof in the main roof plane. There are a picturesque variety of window types on the ground and first floors, and also segmental arched-head basement windows, all of which retain original window frames. The dormer has blue-brick diaperwork to the wall beneath the horizontal timber window of four one-over-one pane sashes. At the right-hand end of the main building is the entrance porch, which has brick lower walls and timber and glazed upper level with a steeply-pitched, slate roof supported on timber brackets. The wide, pointed-arch timber door has decorative strap hinges. The link range is built in the same manner of brick with a slate roof and has a two-light and a three-light stone mullion window. The three-bay west elevation is similarly detailed, with a narrower central dormer. A group of single-storey outbuildings are attached to the south-west corner. The north gable wall faces the south elevation of the church. It has a first-floor oriel window and a wide gable stack.

INTERIOR: there is a centrally placed open-well staircase with a moulded timber balustrade and newel posts, lit by a large, rectangular roof light. Many of the rooms have moulded cornices, and on the first and second floors accommodation was provided for the priests in the form of a number of individual sitting rooms with small bedrooms off. On the second floor is a large room with a fireplace flanked by a narrow, arched cupboard door and an echoing arched doorway into a small bedroom. A small doorway gives access to storage in the eaves. Many original fixtures and fittings remain. The doors on all floors retain vertically panelled doors and timber architraves with extended jambs with polygonal heads. The majority of fireplaces retain moulded timber mantelpieces, though the hearth insets have largely been replaced. The windows retain their original wooden shutters.

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