Abbey Church of the Holy Cross, Shrewsbury
Description: Abbey Church of the Holy Cross
Date Listed: 10 January 1953
English Heritage Building ID: 455052
OS Grid Reference: SJ4984412474
OS Grid Coordinates: 349844, 312474
Latitude/Longitude: 52.7076, -2.7438
Location: Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY2 6AY
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SJ4912SE ABBEY FOREGATE
653-1/16/56 (North side)
10/01/53 Abbey Church of the Holy Cross
Abbey church. Plan and substantial elements of the structure
late C11-early C12, extensively restored and rebuilt by JL
Pearson c1860, following earlier C19 restoration. Red
sandstone, coursed and squared, with ashlar facing to much of
the new work.
PLAN: west tower, nave with 3 aisles, transepts and transept
EXTERIOR: massive 3-stage west tower, the masonry largely
original, but the door, with deep moulded Transitional-style
archway, and 7-light late Decorated-style window above,
renewed in the earlier C19 restoration. Ogee hoodmould over
window, which reaches string course separating 2nd and 3rd
stages of tower. Angle pilasters have niches with statues at
2nd stage. Paired bellchamber lights in upper stage, each side
of central statue in niche. Brick embattled parapet above.
Decorated-style windows in north and south walls of tower form
part of the clerestory-window range. Aisles largely original
masonry, with C19 parapets and late Decorated style tracery in
3-light windows, restored. Small section of medieval north
aisle to west of porch, with two 3-light Decorated windows and
narrow round-arched doorway.
2-storey porch largely Perpendicular, possibly incorporating
earlier structure: the cylindrical responds are apparently
C12, though the rest of the doorway is late medieval, with
square moulded outer archway with quatrefoil spandrels.
Enriched timber door dated 1640. 2 tiers of 2-light windows
above, with mutilated hoodmoulds, flanked by niches. Aisle
includes substantial remains of original construction,
including much of the lower walls and a string course. The
windows are late Decorated and inserted, and the 3 cross
gables of the roof are probably C15 or C16, replacing the
original lean-to roof over the aisle.
Triforium largely the work of Pearson, filling in original
plain round-arched arcade with banded red and white sandstone,
and paired Early English-style windows. Clerestorey also as
renewed by Pearson in a Romanesque style. Corbel table also
Transept refaced and partly rebuilt by Pearson, truncating the
original line of the building which is marked by a blind
full-height archway in the north wall, with paired plate
traceried windows. Stumps of original east and west walls are
visible, that to west continuing beyond the present building
line, and incorporating the remains of a window. Transept
chapel and chancel entirely as rebuilt by Pearson, the chancel
having narrow Early English-style lancet windows high up in
north, south and east walls.
South side follows the same general scheme as north, the
westernmost bays later medieval and restored, the easternmost
C11 or C12 with modifications by Pearson according to the same
design as the north wall. South doorway incorporates responds
with cushion capitals from a C12 door, but has been restored.
INTERIOR: substantial remains of original building visible,
showing evidence of 3 principal building phases: original
C11-C12 phase, extended westward in C13 or C14, and
extensively restored in later C19. Western bays largely the
result of C13-C14 work: high tower arch with clustered shafts
to responds. 2 westernmost bays of arcade are Decorated with
clustered shafts to responds, and deep moulding to capitals
and arches. Decorated windows in triforium. Remains of earlier
arcade and clerestorey also visible. Wide buttressed pier,
then 3 bays of Norman work, with simple double ring round
arches carried on massive cylindrical shafts. Round-arched
triforium arcade, infilled by Pearson. Romanesque style
clerestorey above, also by Pearson, round-headed windows with
recessed shafts and deep splayed arches. Responds at east end
of arcade have triple shafts on squared bases and cushion
Aisles contain cylindrical shafts with cushion capitals which
formerly carried vaulting for roofs which are now largely
timber structures. High plain round-arched presbytery arch
with plain responds. Cylindrical shafts on quared bases to
transept arches, by Pearson. Similar moulding to chancel arch,
which springs from corbels. Rib vaulting over apsidal east end
also carried on paired corbels. Shouldered arches to lancet
windows in east end. Small east chapels each side of
transepts, with groin vaulted ceilings, by Pearson.
FITTINGS: many of the furnishings date from the Restoration,
including the pulpit and the font canopy, and the altar piece,
a triptych with hinged traceried panels.
STAINED GLASS: in east window also later C19, in a medieval
idiom. Armorial glass in west window, and collage of fragments
in clerestory earlier, though probably re-assembled.
MEMORIALS: series of tombs reflect the long history of the
building, including worn effigy of Roger de Montgomery its
founder, and the recumbent figure of a priest in the south
aisle, and 3 monuments in the west end of the north aisle,
showing the development of style in 3 pairs of recumbent
figures on bases, dated 1544, 1571 & 1612. A number of other
effigies in the south aisle are not in situ.
There is also a long series of wall tablets, spanning from the
mid C17 to the early C19. In the north aisle, the remains of
the C14 shrine of St Winefred, which were erected here in
1933, and comprise 2 sections of wall with traceried panels
and some figures of saints in niches.
HISTORICAL NOTE: Shrewsbury Abbey was founded by Roger de
Montgomery c1080 as a Benedictine House.
(The Buildings of England: Pevsner N: Shropshire:
Listing NGR: SJ4984412475
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.