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Church of St John in Grounds of Whittingham Hospital, Whittingham

Description: Church of St John in Grounds of Whittingham Hospital

Grade: II
Date Listed: 13 January 1986
English Heritage Building ID: 185967

OS Grid Reference: SD5663636143
OS Grid Coordinates: 356636, 436143
Latitude/Longitude: 53.8197, -2.6602

Location: Goosnargh, Lancashire PR3 2JJ

Locality: Whittingham
Local Authority: Preston City Council
County: Lancashire
Country: England
Postcode: PR3 2JJ

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Listing Text


5/120 Church of St. John in
grounds of Whittingham


St John's Anglican Church, designed for Whittingham Mental Hospital by Henry Littler and built by Cooper & Tullis in 1873.

MATERIALS: Rock-faced sandstone with sandstone dressings beneath slate roofs.

PLAN: The church is rectangular in plan with an apsidal east end and a north-east steeple.

EXTERIOR: The buttressed east chancel has three windows, each with three cusped lights and arches springing from moulded columns to the apse, and opposing simpler single-light windows to its west end. A gabled sacristy with north door with decorative metal strap hinges and a three-light window is attached to the west end of the chancel. The east end of the nave has a plate-traceried rose window.

The long axis of the nave is of seven bays and possesses an unusual clerestorey with a large gableted wheel window in the centre with stepped triple-light windows under a hipped gablet to either side. Small triangular cusped lights are positioned in the intermediate bays. Buttressed north and south aisles have Tudor-arched windows recessed with two or three segmental-headed lights and centrally-placed buttressed porches. The south timber porch door possesses decorative metal strap hinges.

The west end has a lean-to narthex with a central arcaded six-light window (currently boarded externally) flanked by gabled porches with timber doors with decorative metal strap hinges. There is a later flat-roofed boiler house attached to the junction of the narthex and north aisle. The west wall of the nave has a large partly-boarded five-light traceried window flanked by buttresses.

A tall two-stage tower with spire stands at the junction of the north aisle, nave and chancel. The lower stage is square with angled buttresses, a two-light window to the west face and small quatrefoils to the north and west faces, the second stage is octagonal with tall lancets in the cardinal sides. Continuing from the second stage is an octagonal spire topped by a weather vane in the form of a cockerel.

INTERIOR: The chancel has a tiled floor, stained glass windows and an arched scissor-braced roof supported by wall post on moulded corbels. The apse roof is likewise supported by wall posts on moulded corbels with the panels between the rafters displaying a Morris-style coloured painting of angels bearing lettered ribbons. Some oak choir pews, the altar rail and altar remain in situ. An arch on the north side of the chancel leads to the base of the tower where there are the vandalised remains of the organ. A door in the south of the chancel leads to the sacristy, now badly water damaged.

The nave is wide and lofty with flanking seven-bay aisle arcades with two-centred arches chamfered in two orders. The arcades are carried on coupled iron columns with the spandrels on the walls above decorated with Morris-style stencilled coloured paintings. Pews have been removed or dismantled ready for removal but an octagonal pulpit remains in situ. There are exposed glazed floor tiles at the east end of the nave and beneath carpets on either side of the nave. There is an unusual kingpost roof to the nave with the principal rafters carried below collar level by short struts from the backs of arch-braced inner frames supported by wall posts on moulded corbels. Windows are of clear glass throughout the nave.

HISTORY: St John's Church was designed by Henry Littler of Manchester and built in 1873 by Cooper & Tullis at a cost of £4,632 for Whittingham Mental Hospital. The church served the patients and staff of the hospital until the hospital was closed in 1995, since when it has remained unused. During the early C21 most of the church's seating was removed and the building has suffered periodically from vandalism and the theft of lead which has led to some water ingress. Security fencing was recently erected around the church to prevent further unauthorised access. The church was listed at Grade II in 1986.

SOURCES: Hospital Management Committee, Whittingham Hospital One Hundred Years 1873-1973

Cultural Heritage Desk-Based Assessment Whittingham Hospital, Goosnargh, Preston. July 2007. Prepared by Greg Pugh of CgMs Consultants on behalf of Taylor Woodraw.

Nikolaus Pevsner, Buildings of England: North Lancashire, pp306-7. revised by Claire Hartwell (2009), 306-7

REASONS FOR DECISION: St John's Church is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architect: this church is an early example of the work of Henry Littler, a prominent and well-respected north-west based C19/20 architect who has nine listed buildings to his name
* Design quality: the church is a competently designed and well-executed building with a certain individuality
* Interest: despite partial demolition of the associated asylum and a general deterioration of the surrounding setting, the church remains and integral and imposing element within the surrounding landscape.

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

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