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Christ Church, Bradford-on-Avon

Description: Christ Church

Grade: II*
Date Listed: 18 April 1952
English Heritage Building ID: 312619

OS Grid Reference: ST8275561357
OS Grid Coordinates: 382755, 161357
Latitude/Longitude: 51.3510, -2.2490

Location: 3 Mt Pleasant, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire BA15 1SJ

Locality: Bradford-on-Avon
County: Wiltshire
Country: England
Postcode: BA15 1SJ

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Listing Text

875/3/130 (North side)

Nave and west tower by G.P. Manners, 1839-41. New east end by Sir George Gilbert Scott, 1877-8, with internal fittings after 1878 by J.O. Scott. South east chapel by C.E. Ponting, 1919.

Materials: Bath limestone, slate roofs.

Plan: West tower, rectangular four-bay nave without aisles, south-east porch, chancel with organ chamber and vestries on the north, lady chapel on the south. Originally with galleries in the nave, removed 1884.

Exterior: The church sits in a prominent position at a junction on the main road out of the town towards Bath. The style is nominally Perp, with a rather plain long nave with tall three-light windows under a solid parapet. Embattled and buttressed south porch (1884). The tower is fairly plain, of three stages with diagonal buttresses, crocketed pinnacles, and small two-light bell openings. From within the parapet rises an elegant spire with lucarnes. Between the angles of the tower parapet and the spire are pierced flying buttresses for additional bracing.

Interior: The wide four-bay nave has an unusually detailed, if slightly spindly looking, open truss roof with cusped braces. The tall narrow tower arch typifies the austere character of the original build. In 1877-8, the east bay of the nave was divided by a chancel arch, and an extra bay added beyond the east wall to form a sanctuary, seemingly reusing the old east window tracery. Scott's work respects Manners's use of Perp.

Principal Fixtures: Exceptionally complete Late Victorian and Edwardian fittings (those after 1878 designed by John Oldrid Scott unless stated). The fittings are virtually unchanged since 1926. The reredos is of stone, with five quatrefoil panels; by Farmer & Brindley, 1878, painted by Burlisson & Grylls, 1884. Fine oak pulpit, 1889, square with chamfered angles, on a central wineglass stem and four corner columns. Crisp and opulent carving by Harry Hems. Sounding board with concave curved sides and cherubs, 1911. Choir stalls, 1878, and nave bench pews, 1884. Font, 1841, with octagonal panels and cherubs on the underside. Ogee domed font cover, 1884, carved by Harry Hems, on a pulley system incorporating a large iron cross by Skidmore of Coventry. Oak eagle lectern by Sir G.G. Scott, 1878, makers Cox & Sons, London. Lavish oak chancel and parclose screens, 1891, made by Thompson of Peterborough: Free Perp tracery, elaborate vine friezes and brattishing. The flanking screens at the chapel entrances were made by Herbert Read of Exeter (architect C.E. Ponting), 1909. They incorporate Imperial double-headed eagles, marking the aristocratic Russian descent of the donor, Canon Sidney Meade. Encaustic floor tiles in the sanctuary by Godwin of Lugwardine, 1891. Wall paintings in the nave, organ chamber and chancel, executed by Burlisson & Grylls, 1881: cream ground with stars and suns, texts around the chancel arch, Christ in glory flanked by angels and saints; leaf borders in black and reds, denser floral patterns in the sanctuary with figurative roundels around the east window. Big figures of angels on the nave west wall. Two borders were added in the nave in 1926, and the original brown dado restencilled in blue. The lower nave was overpainted grey, 1973. Paintings cleaned and conserved by Peter Martindale, 2004. South chapel fittings designed by Ponting: stone arched frame to the rose window and altar, by Herbert Read, 1919. Read also carved the oak reredos with Madonna, Child and ascending angels. Stained glass: east window by Clayton & Bell, 1879; chancel south, 1909, and north, 1919, both Powell & Sons, who also did the vivid blue and gold Lady Chapel south window, 1926; in the nave, over the south door, one by C.E. Kempe, 1884, then two by Clayton & Bell flanking a window by William Warrington, in the typically hot palette of 1857; nave north, from the east, two by Burlisson & Grylls, then two by Kempe, all 1880s. West window by Mark Angus, 1993, in textured colourless glass.

Subsidiary Features: In a large churchyard with low walls towards the road. The churchyard paths are framed by avenues of lime trees planted c. 1841. Adjacent, south-east, are the former Christ Church schools (Gothic, 1848 and 1879).

History: Christ Church was a chapel of ease established on a hilltop north-east of the centre of Bradford on Avon; it cost £3862. The foundation stone was laid on September 12, 1839; consecrated November 17, 1841. The church of 1841 had a five-bay nave with the altar against its flat east wall. G.P. Manners (1789-1866) was city architect of Bath and designed many local churches in a sometimes bald Gothic style. In 1877-8 Sir George Gilbert Scott created a new chancel. Scott (1811-78) began practice in the mid-1830s and became the most successful church architect of his day. Often criticised for over-restoration, his work was in fact usually respectful of medieval buildings, while his new churches generally have a harmonious late C13 or early C14 character. He also designed the Albert Memorial, the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras, and was knighted in 1872. He died shortly after the consecration of his work at Bradford on Avon. Subsequent work was overseen by his son J. Oldrid Scott, including decorative painting (1881) and enlargement of the organ chamber (1891). C.E. Ponting of Marlborough oversaw the addition of screens in 1909 and added a south chapel in 1919, a war memorial to Lt. C.E. Moulton. Ponting (1850-1932) was diocesan surveyor for the Wiltshire region of the diocese of Salisbury 1883-1928, of the Bristol region 1887-1915, and the Dorset region 1892-1928. He restored, repaired or enlarged some 225 churches, his work being known for its sympathetic and harmonious character, and designed fifteen new churches. He also worked elsewhere in Britain and abroad, and repaired the spire and carried out underpinning at Salisbury Cathedral. He never became a member of the RIBA.

Ann D. Chapman, A History of the Parish and Church of Christ Church, Bradford on Avon, (1993).
Don Hinde, A Short Tour of Christ Church, Bradford on Avon (2001).
Incorporated Church Building Society (ICBS) archive; file 02545, 1839-42. (

Reasons for Designation: The church of Christ Church, Bradford on Avon, is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:

* In a competent but unremarkable church of c. 1840, an exceptionally rich, high quality and complete set of Late Victorian fittings in the east end.

* The unusual survival of a relatively unknown and near-complete scheme of stencilled and freehand wall paintings executed by Burlisson & Grylls under the direction of John Oldrid Scott, 1881, covering the nave, chancel and north chapel.

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.