Church of All Saints, Darlaston
- Heritage Category:
- Listed Building
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Location Description:
- Walsall Road, Darlaston, West Midlands, WS10 9LA
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Location Description:
- Walsall Road, Darlaston, West Midlands, WS10 9LA
- Walsall (Metropolitan Authority)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
A parish church and church hall, built between 1952 and 1956 to the designs of Richard Twentyman.
Reasons for Designation
The Church of All Saints and the church hall, Darlaston, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural quality: the group of church and hall are the work of the noted C20 architect, Richard Twentyman and show his developing style in designing churches in which close attention to detailing and to the effective use of sources of natural light were crucial factors; * Integrity of original design: the building retains very many of its original fittings and internal decoration and the replacement of some external features has not altered the overall impact of the grouping of church and hall.
The present church was built to the designs of Richard Twentyman of Lavender, Twentyman & Percy in 1951 at a cost of £35,700 and dedicated on 4 October 1952 by the Bishop of Lichfield. The builders were Fletchers of Kingswinford, and the building includes carved stonework by Donald Potter. Twentyman also designed the church hall, joined by a porch to the west of the church, which was opened in 1956.
The present building replaced a Gothic-revival design by George Edmund Street, which was hit by a bomb in July 1942 largely destroying both the church and the newly completed church hall. Some panelling with memorial inscriptions from this earlier church was salvaged and used in the Lady Chapel of the present building. Stained glass windows at the west end were added in the 1960s and a tapestry hanging at the east end, designed by Stephen Lee and woven by members of the parish, was added in the 1970s.
MATERIALS: the building has a reinforced concrete frame and roof with walls of red, hand-made bricks, laid in Sussex bond. The roof covering is copper.
PLAN: the slope of the site and the crater caused by the bomb of 1942 mean that the site slopes downwards from south to north. The nave has a south-western porch and side aisles cut through the thickness of the internal concrete buttresses. There is a Lady Chapel with apsidal eastern end to the south of the choir and chancel. The tower rises above the Lady Chapel porch and there are two storeys of vestries and the organ loft on the north side of the church at its eastern end.
CHURCH EXTERIOR: the south side of the church has the projecting porch at the western end, which has a segmental copper roof with cross finial. The wooden double doors have a reeded surface pattern and circular, bronze handles which are recessed. Surrounding the portal, and covering this southern wall of the porch are carved stone panels, showing angels to the sides and, above the doors, saints adoring the Trinity.
To the right of this are the nave windows. The six bays of the nave each have a central, square-headed lancet to the lower brick walling. Above these, each bay has three lights divided by ashlar mullions which combine to form a continuous run of eighteen undifferentiated lights that rise to the eaves. To the right again the plain flank of the bell tower projects slightly. The tower has a large opening to the upper body of its east and west fronts, with metal balustrades to the lower body, above which the two bells are suspended from their stocks. The tower roof is shallow and pyramidal with a metal cross at the apex. At right again and slightly recessed is the choir, with a window of five mullioned lights which is similar to the nave fenestration. Projecting in front of this is the lower Lady Chapel, which has a door at left with a fluted, stone surround and a bishop’s coat of arms above the opening. At right of this is a run of five, joined, two-light windows to the upper walling. The shallow, copper dome appears over its east end, with a metal crucifix to its apex.
The north wall of the nave has two-light windows to the upper wall of the five eastern bays, and a taller window to the western-most bay. The two-storey vestry block projects at left and has a doorway at right of centre with a panelled door and a stone surround which rises to include the first floor staircase window. To the left of this are three, ground-floor windows with stone surrounds. Recessed and above this block is the north flank of the choir, with a five-light window, as seen on the south side. To its right is the rectangular organ loft which projects from the wall and is sheathed with copper.
The east end has plain brick walling to the sanctuary wall with a large cross in relief. The form of the barrel vault is expressed by arched gable. At left is the apsidal end of the Lady Chapel and at right the vestry block with three narrow windows at first floor level.
The west end is abutted by the link building to its lower body. Above this is a circular window to the centre of the wall, below the arched gable.
INTERIOR: the passage aisles at either side of the nave have timber linings to the flanks and intrados of each opening through the flanking buttresses. Flooring to the nave is of wood blocks, coloured with a chequerboard pattern. The chancel has Travertine marble slabs and the eastern wall is faced with similar slabs. Walling elsewhere is of a self-coloured, lime and stone-dust mix. The barrel vaulted nave ceiling is of concrete, cast on corrugated iron shuttering to give a ribbed effect, and then coated with an acoustic material. Aisle ceilings are of oak-faced plywood and the choir has a plaster barrel vault with a series of concave indents. The pulpit, of reinforced concrete, includes a stone panel, carved by Potter, showing the Agnus Dei. Potter also carved the oak lectern in the form of the eagle of St John, which is a fixture. The church contains a set of oak pews in the nave, designed by Twentyman, and also choir stalls, reading desks, the altar rails and altar. The piscina and sedilia are incorporated into the window bays on the south side of the chancel. The font at the centre of the west end has a tapered body of black granite with an incised, gilded trellis pattern and a wooden lid carved by Potter with fishes. The tapestry at the centre of the east wall replaces a plain cloth hanging and was added in the 1970s. Above it is a panelled tester which projects from the east wall. The Lady Chapel has panelling to its lower walls which was salvaged from the former church. The dome above the eastern end is painted in imitation of sky. The altar and rails were designed by Twentyman, the altar having a front of ribbed timber with the Alpha and Omega signs superimposed. The vestry block retains its original staircase and vesting rooms have their original cupboards.
Pursuant to s1 (5) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the small electricity substation attached to the lower walling at the centre of the north flank of the church building (so small as to not be shown on the attached map) is not of special architectural or historic interest.
HALL EXTERIOR: the church hall is joined to the west end of the church by a single-storey lobby which has a glazed wall and double doors to its south side. A wheelchair ramp was added in the late C20. The south side of the hall has brick walling to either side of eight window bays which have timber panels to their lower bodies and casement lights above, which have been altered by uPVC replacements. To the lower brick wall at left is the foundation stone, laid by A G B Owen CBE on 1 November 1956. The north side has brick walling to the lower body and a continuous run of eight, two-light windows above. The roof, which was formerly covered with copper sheeting, has now been covered with corrugated sheets of stainless steel.
INTERIOR: the lobby area has a reeded panelling to the north wall and a tiled floor. The hall has H-section steel supports to the north side and a folding screen to partition this part of the space. The floor covering has been replaced and a kitchen in the north-west corner has been refitted.
Books and journals
RIBA Journal, (Jan 1953), 100-102
Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Staffordshire, (1974), 297
'All Saints Church, Darlaston' in Architect & Building News , , Vol. 203 (No. 7), (12 Feb 1953), 193-198
'All Saints Darlaston' in The Builder, , Vol. CLXXXIV, (30 Jan 1953), 192-197
This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.
The listed building is shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.
End of official listing