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Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Canterbury

Description: Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart

Grade: II
Date Listed: 19 February 2014
Building ID: 1417650

OS Grid Reference: TR1693168053
OS Grid Coordinates: 616931, 168054
Latitude/Longitude: 51.3701, 1.1153

Locality: Canterbury
Local Authority: Canterbury City Council
County: Kent
Postcode: CT6 8TH

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Listing Text


Roman Catholic church designed in 1889 by Albert Vicars in pointed Gothic style for the Passionist Fathers.

Reason for Listing

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, a Kentish ragstone and freestone church designed by the architect Albert Vicars in 1889 in pointed Gothic style for the Passionist Fathers, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons :
* Architectural interest: a handsome church built of good quality materials with elaborate traceried windows to a cohesive design;
* Fixtures, fittings and decoration: includes three good quality elaborate carved stone and marble altars, font, aumbry, piscina and 1907 carved Stations of the Cross.
* Intactness: there have been no alterations to the exterior and the only internal alteration is the bringing forward of the high altar;
* Historic interest: built by a notable architect with four current listed buildings, three of them churches;
* Group value: group value with an adjoining listed presbytery.


The large circa 1830 house adjacent to the church (No. 3 Sea Street, The Retreat), now the presbytery, was formerly called Belmore Hall and was the residence of a French newspaper proprietor Lassaux. He sold the house to a Mr Dionysius Broderick from County Mayo, a scrap metal merchant, and his wife Catherine. They donated the house to the Passionist Fathers in 1889 together with a substantial endowment to cover the building costs of a new church. Immediately to the east of the church is a small cottage, thought to have originally been the laundry to the main house.

The Passionists are a preaching order, founded by St. Paul of the Cross in 1720 in Italy, that came to England in 1841. This church was designed by the London Architect Albert Vicars (1840-96) in 1889, and it was dedicated and opened for worship on June 11th 1889 although it was August 11th 1897 before it was consecrated. Vicars had just been commissioned to design the mother house of the Passionists in England, St. Joseph's Highgate, built between 1887 and 1889. A south-west tower and spire were intended for the Herne Bay church but were never built. Also a link was intended at first floor level between the presbytery and church but this was not executed although the brickwork is still exposed on the south-west side. The architect's exterior design is displayed in the presbytery.

The adjoining presbytery was listed at Grade II as part of the listing re-survey of Herne Bay in 1976.


Roman Catholic church, designed in 1889 by Albert Vicars in pointed Gothic style for the Passionist Fathers at the expense of Dionysius and Catherine Broderick.

MATERIALS: coursed Kentish Ragstone with freestone dressings and window tracery. Welsh slate roofs with cross-shaped saddle stones to the gable ends.

PLAN: tall aisled five-bay nave and two-bay chancel under a continuous pitched roof. West porch with the adjoining base of an intended south-west tower. North transeptal sacristy.

EXTERIOR: the west front has a lean-to porch across the nave with twin pointed arched doors. Above is a large four-light arched window with elaborate tracery of trefoils, circles and a sexfoil. Projecting to the south-west is the base of the intended tower with an arched two-light window. Exposed brickwork at the south-west angle of the nave shows where the tower was to be attached. The west end of the north aisle has a two-light window with trefoiled heads and motif above. The north and south walls are each of seven bays, divided by pilaster strips to the clerestory and buttresses to the aisles of which the first five bays are the nave, which has lean-to aisles on both sides with three-light traceried windows with trefoils and similar but smaller windows to the clerestory. The sixth and seventh windows on the north side comprise a gabled transept containing a sacristy within the width of the aisle. This has a triple window to the upper floor, two two-light windows with Caernarvon arches under relieving arches to the ground floor, an arched doorcase with a drip-mould and two stepped lancet windows above. The south side is similar but the westernmost bay of the aisle has a penticed projection with three quatrefoil windows lighting confessional boxes. The eastern end has unfinished brickwork where a link block to the presbytery was intended. The east end has a large rose window with elaborate tracery but the base is unfinished brickwork.

INTERIOR: tiled porch floor. The north and south aisle arcades are of five bays with wide pointed chamfered arches carried on cylindrical stone columns with moulded capitals and bases. The nave has a canted and boarded timber roof with principal arch-braced trusses carried down onto marble wall shafts. The aisle roofs have exposed timbers with the main beams braced down onto the spandrels of the nave arcades. The western end bay to the south aisle has three arched openings into confessional boxes. The west end of the nave has a timber organ gallery supported on six carved wooden columns. The organ pipes remain but the organ has been removed. The marble stoup between the twin west porch doors is dedicated to the founders of the church. The timber benches are original but some of the carved Stations of the Cross on the aisle walls are dated 1907. The base of the intended south-west tower contains an octagonal marble font supported on colonnettes with an octagonal wooden font cover with brass fittings. There is no chancel arch. The sanctuary extends for two bays east of the nave and the first of these bays has blind pointed arches on each side carried down to the ground. The side altars are situated directly at the end of the nave aisles. Both the high altar and the side altars have elaborate carved stone and marble carved reredos, the high altar additionally incorporating a marble tabernacle. A walkway was intended between the high altar and the rose windows and one arched opening survives on the north side. The rose window has stained glass depicting Christ in Majesty amongst angels and saints. The north wall has an aumbry and the south wall a piscina. The original central altar was brought forward in the sanctuary as part of a re-ordering.

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