Roman Catholic Church of St John the Baptist


Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1079630

Date first listed: 15-Jan-1968

Date of most recent amendment: 19-May-2016

Statutory Address: Main Road, Great Haywood


Ordnance survey map of Roman Catholic Church of St John the Baptist
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Statutory Address: Main Road, Great Haywood

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Staffordshire

District: Stafford (District Authority)

Parish: Colwich

National Grid Reference: SJ9981922731


A Roman Catholic Church by Joseph Ireland, built as a family chapel at Tixall Hall 1827-9, dismantled and moved to its present location in 1845. The attached presbytery is not of special architectural and historic interest.

Reasons for Designation

The Roman Catholic church of St John the Baptist, of 1827-9 by Joseph Ireland, originally at Tixall Hall and moved in the 1840s to its present location, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: the church is a good example of a private chapel of the 1820s by Joseph Ireland, altered and relocated in the 1840s with good quality elevations and, internal composition and detailing; * Historic interest: as a Roman Catholic country house chapel on a relatively large scale, and for the unusualness of it later being moved to become a parish church, with surviving chalk marking from this reconstruction; * Craftsmanship: the church contains good quality stone carving throughout, particularly in the west gallery and pulpit which display intricate detailing.


The Roman Catholic church of St John the Baptist originated as the family chapel at Tixall Hall, which was the seat of the Clifford family in the early C19. Sir Thomas Hugh Clifford Constable had commissioned the architect Joseph Ireland to carry out extensive work at Tixall Hall and it was he who designed the chapel which was built in 1827-9, under the auspices of Sir Thomas Aston Clifford Constable.

The chapel was used by the local Catholic population as well as the family, and when the family left Tixall in the 1840s they donated the chapel along with land in Great Haywood, where it was rebuilt in 1845 as a condition of the sale of the estate. The relocated building was dedicated in 1846.

Paintings of the chapel in its original location show it to have had an ornate bay window at its eastern end which incorporated fabric from an earlier Tixall Hall, and several projections on the southern elevation. Stones now in the presbytery garden are thought to survive from the original bay window, although it is understood that the bay was never constructed at Great Haywood and the stained glass moved with the family to Burton Constable Hall.


A Roman Catholic church by Joseph Ireland, built as a family chapel at Tixall Hall 1827-9, dismantled and moved to its present location in 1845.

MATERIALS and PLAN: the church is built of a local stone, all ashlar, and is orientated north east - south west, and is a single space containing nave and sanctuary, with a projecting porch at the liturgical west end. The sacristy projects from the eastern end of the southern elevation, where it is joined to the presbytery.

EXTERIOR: the church is characterised by its long north and south elevations with tall mullioned and transomed windows, with buttresses between and at the corners and all with crenellated parapet above. Above the buttresses are small carved shields showing coats of arms. The main entrance to the church is through the porch which projects from the western elevation. The porch has central timber doors in a Tudor-style surround with a flat hoodmould above, and carved tracery in the spandrels. The label stops are uncarved shields. Above the door is a niche containing a statue beneath a decorative ogee-roofed canopy with traceried panels. To either side are tall, blind panels with traceried heads. The gable is surmounted by a stone cross and there are panelled copings across the porch on all sides.

The east elevation contains a large, four-light window with Perpendicular style tracery, beneath a flat head. At the south-west corner in the return between church and porch is a tall octagonal turret, with open trefoiled panels to the bellcote, and projecting carved heads beneath the crenellated parapet. The sacristy projects from the eastern end of this elevation and contains a further window; this then joins the adjacent presbytery. The church has a continuous crenellated parapet.

INTERIOR: through the main entrance into the porch, the entrance door has an internal surround with Perpendicular-style tracery, carved spandrels and floral decoration in the outer surround. The original ceiling of the porch has been lost and replaced with a plain plaster ceiling; fluted pilasters survive in the corners which may have led up to a fan vault. The internal door into the church itself has modern doors in a Tudor-style surround, with a carved coat of arms in the elevation above.

Inside the church, there is an ornately carved western gallery with an arcaded screen with stepped posts leading up to crocketted finials, carved spandrels and further carved decoration above. The main body of the church has dado-height panelling throughout, all with traceried heads. Above this, between the windows, are tall arched panels flanked by further traceried panels. The nave has plain timber pews, some of which originally had tall poppyheads which are understood to have been removed in the 1970s. A number of stones throughout the church retain markings said to have been used when the church was dismantled and reconstructed in 1845.

There is a highly ornate wall pulpit at the sanctuary end which is accessed from a stair inside the sacristy. The pulpit has a carved ogee base with traceried panels above and a figure of a green man in the carved cornice. Adjacent is a Tudor-style door giving access to the sacristy. The sanctuary contains a forward altar which was made from the original altar which was repositioned in the 1970s. To the right is a sedile with an ornate canopy, and the rear wall contains traceried panels. The east window dates from 1910 and shows St John the Baptist. There is a continuous panelled ceiling throughout the church with stencilled decoration.

Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 ('the Act'), it is declared that the presbytery, attached to the south of the building, is not of special architectural and historic interest.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 443140

Legacy System: LBS


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire, (1974), 144
St John's Parish and People 2000
The Architectural History Practice Ltd: Churches in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham: An Architectural and Historical Review prepared for English Heritage and the Archdiocese of Birmingham (2015)

End of official listing