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Christ Church, Birmingham

Description: Christ Church

Grade: II
Date Listed: 8 July 1982
English Heritage Building ID: 217659

OS Grid Reference: SP0423087161
OS Grid Coordinates: 404230, 287161
Latitude/Longitude: 52.4824, -1.9391

Location: Gillott Road, Birmingham B15 2SE

Locality: Birmingham
County: Birmingham
Country: England
Postcode: B15 2SE

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Listing Text


An Anglican church in Perpendicular style, built in 1883-5, designed by Julius Alfred Chatwin (1830-1907).

MATERIALS: The church is constructed from squared and coursed stone with stone dressings, under slate roofs. All the windows have plain diamond-paned glass.

PLAN: The building is orientated north east-south west, but ritual compass points are used throughout this description. The near-symmetrical plan has west porch, north-west vestry, nave, north and south aisles, shallow north and south transepts, and the east end has a polygonal apse.

EXTERIOR: The church is of six bays, the elevations having two-stage angle buttresses at all the corners and similar buttresses with gabled copings expressing the bay structure of the long elevations. The whole is set on a moulded stone plinth. The west end has a large Perpendicular window above paired entrance doorways with a wheel window above; the double-doors in each doorway are plank doors with elaborate wrought-iron strap hinges across much of the surface of the doors. The long elevations have shallow pitched roofs to the aisles, with crenellated parapets. The very large aisle windows have rectilinear Perpendicular tracery, the lower portions with cusped decoration. The north and south transepts are gabled, with solid parapets, and have three-light mullioned windows below high, Perpendicular windows. The chancel, set slightly below the roofline of the nave, terminates in a polygonal apse, with five sides. Each side of the apse has a similar window to those in the transepts.

INTERIOR: The main entrance to the church is via the west doorway, which gives access to a porch with an inserted glazed storm porch. Paired doorways under stone arches with drip moulds lead into the body of the church. The interior has stone dressings with plastered and painted walls. There is a west gallery over the porch, with an informal, open area created at the west end, now partly housing kitchen fittings. This is divided from the nave and south aisle by a half-glazed timber screen with pointed-arched glazed openings and floral carving to the resulting spandrels. The nave arcades have moulded, pointed stone arches carried on octagonal stone piers, with carved foliate and floral capitals, including ferns, daffodils, lilies of the valley, ears of wheat and grapevines. The roof is a simple timber barrel vault, and the floors are tiled in black and red geometric patterns. The pulpit and font are set to the north and south of the foot of the chancel arch respectively. The octagonal stone pulpit is elaborately carved, with pierced arcades and figures of saints under canopies, and an inscription to Reverend George Lea, in whose memory the church was built. The font, also octagonal, has carved relief decoration in quatrefoils to each face, and an inscription below. The south chancel houses the organ. The high chancel is apsidal in plan, and has three high, traceried windows, below which is an altar back created from a tripartite, blind arcade of pointed arches with cusping, moulding and crocketing, and cross finials. Each face is decorated with texts. The altar rails are of hardwood, pierced with cusped decoration. The choir stalls, gallery front and pews are also of hardwood.

HISTORY: The area in which the modern parish of Summerfield is situated was part of a massive expansion of suburban Birmingham during the second half of the C19 and the beginning of the C20. Industrial development came first, along the lines of the railways and canals, but suburban housing quickly followed, to provide accommodation for the middle and skilled working classes involved in local industries. Christ Church was constructed in 1883-5 at the corner of newly-created Summerfield Crescent and Gillott Road, to provide a place of worship for the growing population. The first edition Ordnance Survey (OS) map of 1890 shows rows of semi-detached houses under construction, approaching the church; by the time of the 1904 survey, the entire area had been developed in this way.

Christ Church was designed by Julius Alfred Chatwin (1830-1907). The church, whose parish was created out of the parish of St John, Ladywood, was endowed as a memorial to the Reverend George Lea, Perpetual Curate of the Church of St George, Edgbaston from 1864-83. It was consecrated in 1885. The building has undergone almost no alteration since this date, apart from the addition of carved decoration internally, and some modest reordering to create informal space at the west end of the church.

SOURCES: Nikolaus Pevsner and Alexandra Wedgwood, The Buildings of England: Warwickshire (1966), 210
History of the County of Warwick (Victoria County History), Volume 7: City of Birmingham (1964), 382

The Anglican Christ Church, Summerfield, is designated at Grade II, for the following principal reasons:
* The church was designed in 1883-5 by J A Chatwin, the foremost church architect in Birmingham of the period
* The building is designed in an assured Perpendicular style, with high-quality detailing and good craftsmanship
* Its scale is impressive, with the full-height aisles articulated by very large, Perpendicular traceried windows
* The interior space is lofty and wide, and contains good-quality carved decoration

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.