Shrine, a replica of the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and flanking stone pylons

Overview

Heritage Category:
Listed Building
Grade:
II
List Entry Number:
1432936
Date first listed:
09-May-2016
Location Description:
Uxbridge Street, Hednesford, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire

Map

Ordnance survey map of Shrine, a replica of the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and flanking stone pylons
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Location

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

Location Description:
Uxbridge Street, Hednesford, Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
County:
Staffordshire
District:
Cannock Chase (District Authority)
Parish:
Hednesford
National Grid Reference:
SK0035412020

Summary

Shrine honouring Our Lady of Lourdes, inspired by the original grotto at Lourdes, built between 1927-1934.

Reasons for Designation

The shrine built in honour of the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and the flanking pylons, Hednesford are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: an interesting example of an outdoor Lourdes Grotto shrine, unusual in England for its naturalistic representation of a cave formation; it contrasts well with the flanking Art-Deco style stone pylons; * Historic interest: part of a growing international trend in the early and mid-C20 to commemorate the apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes to St Bernadette; since 1966 the Hednesford grotto has been the site of an annual diocesan pilgrimage; * Group value: with the adjacent Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (listed at Grade II).

History

The current church was preceded by a school and Catholic chapel dedicated to St Joseph and St Philomena at Hill Top, Hednesford, built in the 1890s. The parish was initially served by a visiting priest from Cannock, until after 1907 when a resident priest was installed. In 1913 the then parish priest, Father Patrick Boyle, travelled to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1878) is first recorded as seeing the visions of the Virgin Mary in a cave at Lourdes in 1858. She later uncovered a spring on the site which was believed to possess healing qualities. The cave began attracting visitors and in the 1880s a basilica was built above it: Lourdes had become an important Catholic Pilgrimage site. Bernadette was beatified in 1925 and canonised in 1933.

Following his visit, Father Boyle determined to build a church and a replica of the grotto at Lourdes in Hednesford. His intention was to create a place of pilgrimage for those who could not afford to travel to France, however he died before his vision could be realised. Under his successor, Reverend Joseph Healey, a worldwide fundraising campaign led to the site at Uxbridge Road being purchased in 1923. G B Cox of Harrison & Cox was commissioned to design the building in a French-Gothic style. The cost of the church was upwards of £50,000. A reinforced-concrete superstructure was employed in order that the building could withstand shocks due to mining subsidence. Local newspaper at the time suggested that it was the first ‘earthquake’ proof building in the country. The foundation stone was laid in 1928 and the church was opened in 1934.

The Lourdes Grotto is within the grounds of the Church of Our Lady at Hednesford. It was built to the north of the church and finished by 1934. The grotto stands on an elevated position at the top of the Rosetta Square. In the early-C21 the decorative railings that stood in front of the grotto were removed and new pews were placed in the forecourt.

The church and the Lourdes Grotto at Hednesford continue to act a place of annual pilgrimage.

Details

Shrine honouring Our Lady of Lourdes, inspired by the original grotto at Lourdes, built between 1927-1934.

MATERIALS: concrete-and-stone grotto on the front of a man-made earthen mound; flanked by stone pylons. PLAN: a raised hollow that faces west onto an enclosed ceremonial square.

DESCRIPTION: in front of the church’s west end is a concrete and stone-clad ceremonial grotto with the masonry dressed to replicate natural stone. The grotto consists of a sheltered raised paved platform and in one corner is a niche containing a statue of Our Lady. The altar stone and pulpit are later additions.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the grotto is flanked on either side by a set of six art deco-style stone pylons with vacant niches.

Sources

Websites
Hednesford, The Grotto, Our Lady Of Lourdes c.1955, accessed 10 March 2016 from http://www.francisfrith.com/uk/hednesford/hednesford-the-grotto-our-lady-of-lourdes-c1955_h267007
Other
Roman Catholic Church at Hednesford, The Mercury, Friday July 5 1927, p. 3
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)

Legal

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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