Church of St Mary
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
- Statutory Address:
- Church of St Mary, Fawley, Berkshire
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- Statutory Address:
- Church of St Mary, Fawley, Berkshire
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- West Berkshire (Unitary Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
Church of St Mary, Fawley, built in 1865-6, by G E Street for Blanche Wroughton of Woolley Park.
Reasons for Designation
The Church of St Mary, Fawley, built in 1865-6, by G E Street for Blanche Wroughton of Woolley Park, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
Architectural interest: * As a particularly fine church by one of Victorian England’s most distinguished ecclesiastical architects; * As a serious essay in C13 Anglo-French Gothic, demonstrating both Street’s facility in that idiom, and his idiosyncratic muscular approach; * The dramatic internal space uses contrasts of light and volume to great effect; * The church remains complete and largely unaltered; * The church retains a complete set of contemporary fittings, all of high quality, introduced by Street.
Historical interest: * For the association with the Wroughton family of nearby Woolley Hall, from whom Street received three church commissions in a decade; including the nearby church of All Saints, Brightwalton, which is also being recommended for upgrading to Grade II*.
Improved understanding: * We are now able to provide a more detailed and accurate List entry, in line with current standards.
The current Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fawley, designed in 1864 and built in 1865-6, replaced an earlier medieval church a short distance to the south-east. The church was commissioned from G E Street by Blanche Wroughton of Woolley Park, Chaddlesworth, as a memorial to her husband Philip, who had employed Street at nearby Brightwalton in 1861. Street had built and added to a number of churches in Berkshire during the 1850s, including adding a chancel to the Church of St Andrew, Chaddleworth, for Bartholomew Wroughton, Philip’s brother, in 1854. The Manor of Fawley had belonged to the Wroughton family and their ancestors since the late C18. The cost of the new church at Fawley was about £3,500. The old church was pulled down in 1866; Street wrote that it had ‘no features of interest, save the old columns and arches which will be restored in the new church’, but it appears that only the capitals of the arcade’s western responds were re-used.
George Edmund Street (1824-1881) was one of the most distinguished church architects of the mid to late C19, though his best-known work is perhaps the Royal Courts of Justice in London (1874-82). From 1844 to 1849 Street was employed in the office of George Gilbert Scott, after which he established his own practice. An architectural theorist as well as an architect, Street’s writing and buildings were hugely influential in forming the eclectic visual language of High Victorian architecture. Street’s churches, from the early 1850s, drew significantly on early French Gothic, St Mary Fawley, being an example of this. The church has been described as bearing ‘the challenging countenance of a small Continental fortress’ (Howell and Sutton, 'The Faber Guide to Victorian Churches'); the feature of the towering apse, used elsewhere by Street, notably at All Saints, Denstone (1860-2), is made the more imposing by its elevated position above a spur of the Berkshire Downs. The church was originally designed with the porch and tower to the north; as built, these features are to the south.
The former school (1861) and former parsonage (1862), standing to the west of the church, are by John Money and Son of Newbury.
Church. 1865-6, by G E Street for Blanche Wroughton of Woolley Park. The builders were Rogers and Booth of Gosport, Hampshire. In a C13 Anglo-French Gothic style.
MATERIALS: squared coursed Bisley Common rubble stone (from Gloucestershire) with dressed window surrounds and buttress quoins. Bath stone elements. The roofs are tiled.
PLAN: entered through a porch to the south, the church has a square nave; at the east end, the chancel has a vestry to the north, and an organ chamber, at the foot of the tower, to the south. Beyond the chancel is the apsidal sanctuary.
EXTERIOR: uniform features of the church include moulded strings below cill levels, offset buttresses, and gable parapets with cross finials to the apices. The gabled south porch, set hard against the west end, has a steeply pitched roof, and a moulded two-centred arched entrance; the roof is supported by a plain timber structure. The boarded door has large wrought-iron hinges, with branching leaves. The aisles are lit by paired trefoil headed windows beneath low eaves; there is a plate-traceried window with a quatrefoil above lancets to the west end of each aisle. The large west window has geometric intersecting tracery. The tower, set in the angle of the south aisle and chancel, has a pyramidal roof; in four stages, the corners are marked by angle buttresses. The lower stages have pointed plate-traceried windows; the third stage has lancets, and the uppermost stage has paired pointed louvres to each side, with quatrefoil panels between the heads. The tall apse is the most overtly French part of the design, externally. The height is divided by a cill band; the walls beneath are blind, with uncusped bar-traceried windows above. The windows are divided by buttresses with very shallow offsets, emphasising the effect of verticality. On the north side, above the organ chamber, is a small plate-traceried roundel. The chamber is lit by lancets.
INTERIOR: attention is immediately drawn to the raised, light, vaulted chancel, the dramatic effect emphasised by the relatively dim light of the wide aisled nave, with its low arcades, beneath which light emerges from the narrow aisle windows set deep in pointed segmental-arched embrasures. The tooled stone of the walls is left unplastered, and the timber roofs are constructed of canted common rafters. The three-bay aisles have sturdy circular piers of dark polished Devonshire marble, with Bath stone capitals carved with varied stylised leaf patterns, supporting chamfered pointed arches. The chancel arch rests on paired marble shafts; there is chevron moulding around the arch. A low stone screen, with quatrefoil pierced panels between marble colonnettes divides chancel from the nave; the screen has a marble capping. The rounded stone pulpit to the north is integral to the screen; entered from the chancel, this has a marble balustrade and a chevron moulding to the base, the whole resting on dwarf piers. In the chancel and sanctuary, the rib-vaulted stone roof springs from marble shafts, which also frame the rere-arches of the windows. In the sanctuary, to the south, paired sedilia under pointed arches are separated by a marble shaft; to the west is the piscine, under a triangular arched moulding. Wrought-iron screens separate the chancel from the vestry and organ chamber, and an oak screen with trefoil-headed panelled doors, and wrought-iron hinges, separates the north aisle from the vestry. Stone steps with chamfered ends lead up the south wall of the organ chamber to the bell tower. The fittings introduced by Street are largely untouched. The tripartite reredos is by Thomas Earp, of inlaid carved stone with a central Crucifixion backed by golden mosaic by Salviati. The original pews remain, with moulded ends; there are smaller versions for children. The choir stalls, with metal candle holders, have fronts pierced with plate tracery and fleur-de-lys. There is an oak double lectern on a stand with complex mouldings. The font echoes the design of the pulpit; the circular basin with trefoil-arched panelling rests on clustered dwarf columns. The oak font cover is enriched by a foliate metalwork cross. The east window has stained glass by Morris and Co installed in 1868, and paid for by subscription in memory of Philip Wroughton; the upper roundel contains a Pre-Raphaelite nativity scene. A stone tablet commemorates a later Philip Wroughton of Woolley Park, killed during the First World War, and also his younger brother who died in childhood. The church is floored with red, black and yellow tiles, with geometric and encaustic tiles by Godwin in the chancel and sanctuary.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Betjeman, J (author), Piper, J (author), Murray's Berkshire Architectural Guide, (1949), 93, 125
Elliot, J , George Edmund Street, A Victorian Architect in Berkshire, (1998), 94-5
Howell, P, Sutton, I, The Faber Guide to Victorian Churches, (1989), 43-4
Pevsner, N, Bradley, S, Tyack, G, The Buildings of England: Berkshire, (2010), 305
British Geological Survey, Strategic Stone Study, accessed 5 February 2020 from https://www.bgs.ac.uk/mineralsuk/buildingStones/StrategicStoneStudy/EH_atlases.html
'Parishes: Fawley', in A History of the County of Hampshire: Volume 3, ed. William Page (London, 1908), pp. 292-296, accessed 17 March 2017 from http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/hants/vol3/pp292-296
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