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Church of Our Lady of Consolation and St Francis

A Grade II Listed Building in West Grinstead, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9778 / 50°58'39"N

Longitude: -0.3247 / 0°19'28"W

OS Eastings: 517709

OS Northings: 121153

OS Grid: TQ177211

Mapcode National: GBR HKM.NQ5

Mapcode Global: FRA B66J.HB7

Entry Name: Church of Our Lady of Consolation and St Francis

Listing Date: 22 February 2007

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1391890

English Heritage Legacy ID: 495482

Location: West Grinstead, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13

County: West Sussex

District: Horsham

Civil Parish: West Grinstead

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: West Grinstead St George

Church of England Diocese: Chichester

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Listing Text


965/0/10063 PARK LANE
22-FEB-07 (East,off)
Church of Our Lady of Consolation and
St Francis

Roman Catholic church. Nave and aisles built in 1876, architect John Crawley in Early Decorated style. In 1896 the aisles were raised and the sanctuary, transept chapels and a bell turret added by F A Walters in matching style. The lower part of the tower may be early C20 but the upper part was completed in 1964 with a short spire by the firm of Riley and Glanfield in memory of Hilaire Belloc.
MATERIALS: Built in flint with ashlar dressings and slate roof.
PLAN: Six bay nave with north and south aisles, three bay sanctuary with transept chapels and south west tower with squat spire.

EXTERIOR: The west end has a large traceried window with trefoil lights above, and below an ogee-arched former doorcase converted into a window in the late C20. The south west tower is of three stages, battered towards the base, with four pinnacles with pyramidal roofs, tall buttresses and a squat stone spire. The top bell stage has triple round-headed louvred openings and an arched opening with double plank doors with original ironmongery. The nave has a clerestory of trefoil-headed lancets divided by buttresses and the aisles have arched windows with trefoil-headed double lancets and mouchettes or quatrefoil lights above. The lower part of the north aisle is obscured by the link building to the Priest's House. The Sanctuary is lower with one arched window with double lancets and trefoil and quatrefoil lights above and a further window in the brick lean-to transepts. The east window is set high on the wall because of the high internal reredos. It is an arched window of trefoil-headed lights with intersecting tracery. The church is linked to the adjoining Priest's House by a one storey link block of flint with stone dressings and slate roof with terracotta ridge tiles.

INTERIOR: Six bay nave with arched arcade supported on octagonal stone columns and a stone rib vaulted roof. Above the columns are carved stone angels bearing the arms of the benefactors of the church and shrine, superintended by the architect Edward Hanson. These include on one side the arms of Pope Leo XIII, Bishop James Danell, the 15th Duke of Norfolk and his wife, and the 3rd Order Dominicans; and on the other Duchess Flora, the Caryll family, the Mostyn family and the Carthusian Order. There is a wooden gallery to the west and original pews. Stained glass in the aisles includes St Nicholas and the pickled boys, attributed to Hardman; St John and St Francis, also St Dominic and the Blessed Virgin Mary attributed to the firm of Jones and Willis; and the Annunciation of French made glass. The north aisle contains a wall plaque to Jean Marie Denis, Parish Priest from 1863 until 1900 and an ogee-shaped wall monument to his sister. To the north west of the chancel arch is a gabled stone canopy with pinnacles supported on marble columns containing a late C19 painting of the Northern Italian School of the Virgin and Child, loosely based on the original "Bella de consolata" painting in Turin. This shrine was here in the 1870s before the sanctuary was built. The original communion rails are not "in situ" but are extant. The sanctuary is of three bays, also with ribbed vaulting and has an elaborate stone and plaster French reredos depicting various scenes from the life of Our Lady, and on the top four statues of saints associated with the mission: St Bruno, St Thomas, St Aloysius and St Francis of Assisi. In the centre is a statue of Our Lady of Consolation which is a shrine. There is a pointed arched piscina and an aumbry. the east window stained glass depicts Richard of Chichester, St George, St Bruno and St Dominic. In the apex is Our Lady and the Child Jesus. This window is attributed to the firm of Lavers, Barraud and Westlake.

HISTORY: West Grinstead is a particularly interesting Catholic site. Before the Reformation West Grinstead was established as a shrine in honour of Our Lady, and the Caryll family kept Catholic worship alive after the Reformation. A document of 1580 exists reporting that the minister of Shipley, John Wassher, made surprise visits to one of the Caryll family's properties, Benton's Place in Shipley, looking for Fathers Hampton and Stratford. Adjoining the Church of Our Lady of Consolation and St Francis is the Priest's House (listed grade II*) which contains an attic room used as a chapel, probably since 1630. This building was endowed as a presbytery in 1671 which may make it the oldest continuously occupied Catholic presbytery in England.

After the Penal times a Frenchman, Father Jean-Marie Denis, was appointed as parish priest and the Bishop of Southwark asked him to erect "a miniature French cathedral". Funds were raised not only locally but also in France, Belgium and Holland and a church was designed by John Crawley in the Early Decorated style. The foundation stone was laid on 29th May 1875 and the church opened on 27th June 1876. Only the nave and aisles were built and the transepts, nuns' choir, tower and spire of the original design were not realised. The aisles were raised and the sanctuary, chapels on either side of the sanctuary and a bell turret added in 1896 by F A Walters. The tower may have been begun in the early C20 but the upper part, including a short spire, was built in 1964 to designs by Riley and Glanfield. The completion of the tower was in memory of Hilaire Belloc who died in 1953 and is buried in the church yard.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: An elegant flint and stone exterior with an impressive stone vaulted interior worked on by three notable Catholic architects, John Crawley circa 1876, Edward Hanson, and F A Walters circa 1896. It has an intact interior with elaborate French reredos and stained glass, some French, others attributed on stylistic grounds to notable English stained glass firms. Additionally, there is historic interest as West Grinstead is an important Catholic site for the continuity of worship after the Reformation through the use of a secret chapel in the attic of the adjoining Priest's House (listed grade II*). Historic interest is further strengthened by a link with author Hilaire Belloc who is buried in the churchyard and in whose memory the tower was completed.

Pevsner and Nairn "Buildings of England" p.571.
Margaret Clifton and David Goddard "The Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation and St Francis, West Grinstead".

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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