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Roman Catholic Church of St Anthony

A Grade II Listed Building in Woodhouse Park, Manchester

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Latitude: 53.3735 / 53°22'24"N

Longitude: -2.2603 / 2°15'36"W

OS Eastings: 382781

OS Northings: 386321

OS Grid: SJ827863

Mapcode National: GBR DYNF.GF

Mapcode Global: WHBB1.7GYP

Entry Name: Roman Catholic Church of St Anthony

Listing Date: 26 March 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1417588

Location: Manchester, M22

County: Manchester

Electoral Ward/Division: Woodhouse Park

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Sale

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater Manchester

Church of England Parish: Wythenshawe William Temple

Church of England Diocese: Manchester

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Roman Catholic church, 1959-60, by Adrian Gilbert Scott. Narrow buff bricks with Portland-stone dressings, Lombardic-tile and copper roof coverings. The attached presbytery and parish hall are excluded from the listing.


Roman Catholic church, 1959-60, by Adrian Gilbert Scott. Narrow buff bricks with Portland-stone dressings, Lombardic-tile and copper roof coverings

PLAN: the church is aligned east-west alongside Portway and is surrounded by lawned grounds with a car parking area in front of the west end. It has a cruciform plan with nave and flanking processional aisles, crossing tower, transepts and a polygonal apse at the west (ritual east) end. The following geographical references will be referred to in their ritual sense.

EXTERIOR: St Anthony's is a large church with brickwork of a light buff, almost grey, colour. The majority of the windows are round-headed with quoined Portland-stone surrounds, Geometric-style cusped tracery, and diamond-patterned leaded glazing. The west end incorporates a giant parabolic arch with a deeply recessed entrance containing double doors set within a Portland-stone doorcase, which is styled as a miniature frontispiece; smaller flanking doors exist to the side walls. Above the main entrance is a tall round-headed window containing two trefoil-arched lancets with an octofoil above. The two sides of the arch rise above as pinnacles with copper-clad spirelets, and flank a gablet with a 2-light mullioned window containing leaded glazing. The nave has a pitched roof and lean-to processional aisles are attached on each side with half-hips to their roofs at the west end. The aisles, which continue across the nave's junction with the crossing tower and across half of the west walls of the transepts, are lit by smaller versions of the west window, along with smaller trefoil-arched lights at the western end and in front of the tower. Low projections on each side in front of the tower, which are lit by small narrow square-headed windows, contain confessionals. The transepts have hipped roofs and both are lit by three windows in the same style as those to the nave; the central window on each side is taller. Rising above and behind the transepts is an octagonal crossing tower with a polygonal copper-clad roof inset behind a parapet and surmounted by a cross finial. The upper sections of the tower's four angled corners are stepped back slightly behind a parapet, forming a small balcony-style area accessed by a doorway flanked by paired louvred belfry windows, which are all set within integral Portland-stone surrounds. To the east of the tower is a 5-sided apse with a windowless east end and windows of two sizes to the remaining sides in the same style as those to the nave and transepts. A low hipped-roofed, L-shaped sacristy range is attached to the north transept and north side of the apse and is lit by wide 8-light and 12-light square-headed metal windows on the north and east sides respectively, and by replaced uPVC windows on the west side. Attached to the north-west corner of the sacristy range at an awkward angle is a presbytery of reddish-brown brick, which was constructed prior to the church in 1953 and connects to a parish hall building; both buildings are excluded from the church's listing.

INTERIOR: internally there are marble and tile floors and a high dado of Hornton stone throughout, except for in the sacristy range. The narthex contains the former baptistery at the north end, which has a later partly-glazed timber screen and is now used as a shop. A stone dog-leg stair at the south end of the narthex with an elegant bronzed-metal balustrade leads up to the west gallery above, which has pew bench seating. Three sets of double-doors lead from the narthex into the main body of the church, which is a tall space with Scott's characteristic soaring camel-vaulted arches of three sizes rendered as parabolas; those to the crossing are the largest, with the 3-bay nave arcade being next, and the smallest arches to the processional aisles. The church's original pendant lighting scheme and fixed pews survive, and the Stations of the Cross, which are of carved limewood, are inset into the Hornton-stone dado in the processional aisles. The processional aisles terminate in the transepts where further parabolic-arched recesses in the east walls contain marble altars to St Anthony and the Holy Family and neo-Baroque painted reredoses from Italy. The sanctuary has a painted ceiling and a marble floor and is accessed by a short flight of steps incorporating the coats of arms of Lisbon and Padua (cities associated with St Anthony). The altar rails in front of the sanctuary have been removed. An integral Hornton-stone wall pulpit on the north side of the sanctuary arch is accessed via a stone spiral stair off the sacristy corridor and is adorned with carvings symbolising the Evangelists. A lectern and font are of the same stone and marble as the main altar, which is set underneath a large dark-green and white marble baldacchino with a barrel-vaulted tessarae ceiling supported by columns with partly-gilded capitals. The sacristy corridor is top-lit by square skylights and has, in part, been modernised, but some of the rooms retain original built-in cupboards and drawers.


Prior to the construction of St Anthony's RC Church in 1959-60 Mass was celebrated first in two green Nissen huts knocked into one, and subsequently in the hall of Woodhouse Park's school built in 1953/4. St Anthony's RC Church was constructed to the designs of Adrian Gilbert Scott, brother of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott. The foundation stone was laid on 13 June 1959 by Bishop Murphy and the church opened on 3 November 1960. The church cost over £100,000 and was built to accommodate 800 worshippers, although the building can hold up to approximately 1400 people. It is one of the largest church in the Diocese of Shrewsbury and serves as a proto-cathedral; some of the Diocese's bishops have been ordained here and it is the venue for major Diocesan events. The church is also used by the local Keralan Indian community.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic Church of St Anthony's, 1959-60 by Adrian Gilbert Scott, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the church has a strong composition and imposing presence derived from its bold design and cathedral-like scale, which is enhanced by the use of elegant building materials, including narrow and very pale buff bricks, Portland stone dressings and copper roofs, and a dramatic west end incorporating a giant camel-vaulted arch containing the recessed west entrance;
* Architect: it was designed by the notable architect Adrian Gilbert Scott who trained under Temple Moore and specialised in ecclesiastical commissions for the Roman Catholic Church, and it is one of his major works;
* Interior design: the elegant interior maintains stylistic continuity with the exterior through its incorporation of Gilbert Scott's characteristic soaring camel-vaulted arches, which are derived from ancient Persia and are successfully reinterpreted here in a modern form; rendering the arches and treating them as parabolas. The dignified space is also enhanced by a dado of buff-coloured Hornton stone that contrasts with plastered walls above, and tall windows that serve to maximise light;
* Interior quality: the interior decoration is kept to a minimum overall to enable the beauty of the building to be fully expressed, but the furnishings are of a high quality, including inset Stations of the Cross, an unusual carved wall pulpit, and an elaborate marble, gilded and mosaicwork baldacchino.

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