Roman Catholic Church of Holy Michael Archangel


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Aston-by-Stone, Stone Rural, Stafford, Staffordshire


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

Location Description:
Aston-by-Stone, Stone Rural, Stafford, Staffordshire
Stafford (District Authority)
Stone Rural
National Grid Reference:


A Roman Catholic parish church of c.1882, possibly designed by James Trubshaw, and incorporating fabric from an earlier church of 1847-49 which was designed by CF Hansom.

Reasons for Designation

The church of Holy Michael Archangel, Aston, Stone is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural quality: despite the relative plainness of the church built in 1882, it contains rich furnishings, designed by CF Hansom and brought from the former site of the chapel. These include stained glass, tracery and a carved altar, pulpit and font. * Historic associations: the manor house and later the convent at Aston have a long association with recusant Catholicism in England and were the site of the safekeeping of the bones and St Chad and of the mission founded by Saint Dominic Barberi, who converted Saint John Newman and who commissioned the furnishings now placed in this present church.


The site is an ancient one with a large moat (now dry). In the C16 the site passed to the Heveningham family and from them it went to the Simeon family. In about 1757 Sir James Simeon built a family mausoleum to the south-west of the moat which survives (Grade II). The estate passed to the Roman Catholic Weld family who commissioned a design for a house from John Tasker c.1798. This house was then given to the English Franciscans to serve as a noviciate and Bridgettine nuns were in residence from 1829-37. In 1838 the bones of St Chad were discovered under the altar in the hall chapel, having been brought to the site for safekeeping from Lichfield Cathedral at the Reformation. In 1842 Dominic Barberi arrived from Italy and founded a Passionist novitiate at the hall. A small convent and chapel with a courtyard plan were designed and built for him by CF Hansom in 1847-9 and placed on a corner of the moated island - a location which must have created interesting reflections before the moat was drained, but which proved unstable. Barberi was responsible for receiving John Henry Neman into the Roman Catholic church in 1845 and was himself beatified in 1963. Following Barberi’s death in 1849, the Passionists gave up the mission and the site was bought in 1855 by Revd. Canon Edward Huddlestone. It seems likely that the Hansom building was already showing signs of instability and Hansom employed EW Pugin to rebuild part of the convent buildings, perhaps using some of the earlier foundations. The present Aston Hall, appears to include an earlier wing, which formed part of Hansom’s convent building. The Hansom chapel was demolished in the 1880s and the present, smaller church was built to the north west of the moat. It is believed that salvaged features from the earlier convent were reused in the new church, most particularly window surrounds and furnishings, but probably also squared blocks of stonework . From 1959 the house has been owned by the Birmingham Roman Catholic Diocese and run as a guest house for retired and convalescent priests. The small tower housing the sanctus bell, to the north east of the church, was added in 1899 according to the diocesan archives.


A Roman Catholic parish church of c.1882, possibly designed by James Trubshaw, and incorporating fabric from an earlier church of 1847-49 which was designed by CF Hansom.

MATERIALS: sandstone with a plain tile roof.

PLAN: the church is aisleless, with a chancel, northern vestry and western gallery. The small sanctus bell tower to the north of the chancel was added in 1899.

EXTERIOR: the nave and chancel have the same height of ridge, but the division between them is marked by a visible coping stones above the sanctuary arch, which perhaps supported the sanctus bellcote before the small tower was built. The south-western flank of the building has four bays to the nave, defined by buttresses with offsets. Windows are arcuated triangles with a single lancet and a triple lancet. The chancel has a window of paired lancets. The north-west gabled end has buttresses to the corners and three arcuated triangle lights to the gable above two lancets. The north-east flank has an arched doorway at right with a plank door. To left of this are two, two-light windows with cusped heads to the lights and quatrefoils to the apex. At left again is the projecting, gabled vestry, which has a chimney to its right flank and an arched priest’s doorway to its left flank. The gable end has a three-light window with heavy hood mould, and there is a quatrefoil to the gable. The chancel has a window with paired lancets. To the left of this the later bell tower projects, and has a lancet window to the lower stage, with a door to its right flank. The upper stage has paired and single lancets to the belfry and the spire roof is square on plan with a slate roof. The south-east (ritual east) end has a window of three lights with cusped heads and with a circle to the tracery at the top containing three arcuated triangles with cusps.

INTERIOR: the roof is formed of common rafters, each with angle braces and long ashlar pieces. The flooring is tiled with alternating red and black tiles to the nave and patterned encaustic tiles to the chancel which include a memorial tile with the lettering ’E+H / RIP’ for Edward Huddlestone, who died in 1871. The font at the western end is octagonal with recessed panels carved in deep relief representing the Evangelists, the Pelican in her Piety, Agnus Dei and Holy initials. The stone pulpit has a panelled front including the lettering ‘IHC’ and is approached by a staircase with a wrought iron balustrade. The stone altar has five panels to its front showing the crucifixion at centre, flanked by figures of St George and St Michael. To the right is the Nativity and at right is the Coronation of the Virgin. The altar, together with its ledge are notably deep and may indicate some later adjustment to the altar or inclusion of earlier fabric. The tabernacle has richly enamelled and engraved doors and is inscribed to its flanks with wording that clearly predates the present building; the left flank reads ‘HOC TABERNACULUM, / IN HONOREM / SANCTUTIMI SACRAMANT / DONO DEDIT.’ and the right flank reads ‘JOANNA BILLINGTON / DE MANCHESTER / A.D. MDCCCXLIX.’ (ie 1849, the year of the completion of Hansom’s convent buildings). Stained glass in the western window appears to be of mid-C19 date and shows a figure of St Michael flanked by St Peter and St Paul. The heart and cross in the central light are the symbol of the Passionists, who left Aston in 1854. Stained glass of a similar date is in the triple lancet window on the south-western flank.


Books and journals
Drinkwater, FH , Aston Hall by Stone, (1976)


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

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