Building Name

Church of St Joseph (RC) Chapel Road Bedford Leigh

1852 - 1855
Chapel Road
Bedford, Leigh
GMCA, England
New Build

The old chapel of St. Joseph, having long been too small for the increasing congregation attending the ministrations of the Rev. J. Middlehurst, it was resolved that a commodious and handsome stone edifice should be erected near the site of the original chapel.   These intentions were carried out in a spirited manner and on the 3rd ult, the new church was opened with a Pontifical High Mass.

This church is built very much upon the same model as the celebrated church of St Walburge's, Preston, and by Mr Joseph Hansom, now of the firm of J. and C. Hansom of Clifton. It consists of a nave (a clear rectangular area) of 135 feet long and 46 feet in width.   The walls are 27 feet high and to the ridge of the roof 68 feet. There are bays or compartments in the roof, which is open and formed of arched or curved framed principals supporting the ribs and covered diagonally by boards richly stained. At the end is an imposing chancel arch of moulded stone work, 42 feet high and 23 feet wide; and a capacious chancel, semi octangular in form, 26 feet in diameter and 22 feet deep with three windows of three lights each, and tracery heads fitted with stained glass.  The principal entrance to the church is under the tower, an equally lofty archway opening into the nave, an elevated choir gallery occupying the area of the tower, and projecting about 6 feet upon carved timber spandrel trusses, with an ornamental front into the church. The tower is at present carried up to the height of about 66 feet, and temporarily roofed in to abide the time when funds may be forthcoming to complete it, and surmount it with a lofty spire, which is proposed to run to the height of 170 or 180 feet, at a cost of 600 additional.   The present total cost of the church, tower, sanctuary and side porch, with the benches, has been about £4,000.

The glass stained window has been executed by Messrs R. B. Edmundson and Son, of Newton le Willows, and promises well for their career in this work of art. The centre window is a rich and chaste design, the groundwork being formed of the vine, in the opening of which appear the figures and ornaments.  The centre figure is that of the Blessed Virgin and her Divine Son, surrounded by angels, bearing scrolls, on which are inscribed   "Ave Maria", "Gratia plena" and "Ora pro nobis". The side lights contain the Annunciation, Birth, Assumption and Coronation, with a border composed or the lily, crown, rose, and monograms of the Blessed Virgin. The windows an either side contain a figure of St. Joseph and St. John, with the Carrying of the Cross and the Crucifixion, the border being of beautiful geometrical designs.   These windows appear to have given very great satisfaction, both as to workmanship and cost. [Extract from Leigh Chronicle dated June 1855]

An odd facade and an odder interior. The facade is tight with buttresses with many set-offs appearing in profile and the top a steep gable between two buttresses. But inside one would forget that one is in a church if it were not for the bondieuseries. It is a wide room with iron columns carrying timber arches from column to column ie W to E and at the same time beams sticking out of the wall like hammer-beams i.e N S and S N. The result is very matter of fact   Pevsner

Cast iron columns and additional roof timbers noted by Pevsner were not part of the original design but were inserted to reinforce the roof structure which had moved in a gale c 1864.

Reference    Manchester Guardian 24 April 1852 page 11 – contracts: Notice dated 21 April 1852
Reference    Leigh Chronicle June 1855