Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Killigrew Street, Falmouth, TR11 3PR


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Statutory Address:
Killigrew Street, Falmouth, TR11 3PR

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

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Roman Catholic Church designed by the architect J A Hansom using a blend of Gothic and Burgundian Romanesque styles. Built in 1868, the tower and spire were added in 1881 by J S Hansom and the baptistery and porch were added in 1908.

Reasons for Designation

The Church of St Mary Immaculate and associated gate piers and statue of the Mother and Child, built in 1868 to the designs of J A Hansom, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: an externally unaltered mid-C19 church designed by the Victorian architect, J A Hansom, which confidently employs a blend of Gothic and Burgundian styles of architecture; * Interior: good-quality finishes with a good collection of C19 and C20 fixtures and fittings, including several stained glass commissions; * Artistic interest: mid-C20 stained glass windows and painted canopy over the altar by Benedictine monk, Fr Charles Norris, a notable artist who trained at the Royal Academy of Art; * Group value: forms a contemporary group with the Grade II presbytery which is attached to the church via a single-storey link.


The Church of St Mary Immaculate was built in 1868 by Fr William (Canon) Cassey to the designs of the architect J A Hansom. It was opened on the 26 August 1869 by Bishop Vaughan, assisted by Bishop Ullathorne of Birmingham. The attached presbytery appears to be contemporary with the church and may also be designed by Hansom.

In 1881 the tower and spire were completed to the designs of J S Hansom, J A Hansom’s son. In 1908, Canon James Burns added the baptistery and south porch (apparently from J A Hansom’s original designs), in memory of his predecessor Canon Cassey. He also installed the organ to the south side of the church. The two-storey vestry, possibly the former school master’s house, appears from historic map evidence to have been added between 1907 and 1933. The Lourdes Grotto to the north aisle was created in 1926, and in 1939 a granite pulpit was erected in memory of Pope Pius IX (since removed).

In 1946 Canon George Cantell prepared the church for its consecration by Bishop Grimshaw on 8 September 1948 and is understood to have introduced various new fittings and furnishings including the stained glass windows to the present baptistery and a painted canopy over the altar. During the 1970s the granite altar was brought forward and the original gradine and tabernacle shelf discarded. The baptistery was moved to the Sacred Heart chapel at the east end of the south aisle. The parish school was in the crypt until 1886 when it was relocated to a single-storey, linear building to the north-west of the church, which is now (2013) the church hall. The crypt is now (2013) used as a nursery school and for storage (2013).


MATERIALS: it is constructed of Killas rubble stone with granite stone dressings. There are dressed granite roof tiles to the tower and the other roofs have slate coverings with coped gables at the west end.

PLAN: orientated approximately west to east and consists of a nave with apsidal chancel; north and south aisles with small apses to the east end; square tower to the south-east corner with round stair turret to its south-west corner; organ to base of tower; south Lady Chapel; south porch; south-west former baptistery; north vestry; and single storey passageway to the north aisle linking the church with the presbytery. Crypt below the nave, formerly used as a school, now used for storage and as a pre-school (2013).

EXTERIOR: a deliberately irregular appearance with varied eaves lines, window sizes and types. The east end comprises the chancel apse with an arcade of round arches, to either side are two smaller apses with cinquefoil windows. The three apses have conical roofs with slate coverings. To the south-east corner is the square tower with spire and a round stair turret. The tower is divided into three stages. The first stage is square with three tall windows with round-arched heads and flat-headed slit windows above; the second stage is octagonal with lancet windows; the third stage is cylindrical with an arcade of round-arched louvered lights and a conical roof with lucarnes. The south elevation comprises an octagonal former baptistery to the west end with offset buttresses and trefoil windows; the south porch with two-centred arched doorway and trefoil window above; adjacent to the porch is the Lady Chapel. The west end comprises a two-centred arch doorway with rose window above and the north and south aisle to either side. To the east end of the north elevation is a two-storey addition housing the vestry; to the west end are visible the two north aisle windows, beneath which are arched openings to the crypt. There is a single storey passageway from the north aisle to the south elevation of the presbytery with two trefoil windows in granite surrounds. INTERIOR: the interior has plain plastered walls and an arch-braced and scissor-braced roof springing from wooden corbels to the nave. The nave roof is higher than the aisle roofs to accommodate the clerestory windows. The seven-bay arcades comprise equilateral two-centred arches on round columns with octagonal capitals. To either side of the chancel is a pair of two-centred arched openings with two central colunettes. To the south side of the chancel is a piscina with trefoil head. Former baptistery to the south-west not inspected.

FITTINGS: the polished granite altar to the chancel with a seven-bay arcade with trefoil heads was erected by the Freeman family. Above the altar is a painted canopy by Fr Norris, commissioned by Canon Cantell. Octagonal granite pulpit. Small octagonal freestone font at the east end of the south aisle. Polished granite altar and reredos in the Romanesque style to the Lady Chapel. Carved wooden statues of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady and St Joseph, and Our Lady and St Bernadette in the Lourdes Grotto and wooden reliefs of the stations of the cross.

STAINED GLASS: The windows in the sanctuary were given by two sisters, Jane H. Sturgeon Coleman (nee Polglase) and Amelia Billar Polglase and show nine events of the paschal mystery; windows in the Lady Chapel in memory of the wife of William George Freeman, benefactor of the church; glass in rose window given in memory of T. H. Horsford and his wife who died in 1897; two windows in the former Sacred Heart chapel, now baptistery, given by Canon Cantell and made by Fr Charles Norris of Buckfast Abbey in 1948 and depicting the living water running from the heart of the dead Christ and the Elizabethan martyr Cuthbert Mayne.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: a pair of granite stone gate piers with pyramidal caps to the south side of the church. A stone statue of the Mother and Child located outside the west entrance, but formerly located in the Lady Chapel.


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

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Radcliffe, E, The Buildings of England: Cornwall, (1970), 67
Woodhead, S , Illustrated Guide to the Catholic Churches of the Diocese of Plymouth, (1992), 92-3
'Kellys Directory' in Cornwall, (1910)
St Mary's Catholic Church, Falmouth: A Brief Guide for Visitors, 2001,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 12 Oct 2003
Reference: IOE01/11289/02
Rights: Copyright IoE Anne Newell. Source Historic England Archive
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