English Churches - Warwickshire
A very large, but rather spartan parish church.
must rank high in the list of largest parish churches and
was built to house the increasing influx of visitors to
royal Leamington Spa.
There has been a church here since the C12th when Leamington was still a tiny hamlet. A west tower was added in the C14th. By the mid C19th the church was at the centre of a bustling spa town and had already been extended five times in eighteen years. The vicar decided the only answer was to pull down the existing church and rebuilt a larger church in the latest Victorian Gothic style befitting to the rapidly expanding and popular Spa town. Work began with the north transept and the angel tower finishing with the south transept. Work was slow through lack of funds. Increasing numbers meant the church needed extending again by the end of the century and the two western bays were added to the nave with the south west bell tower. This increased the seating capacity to 2000.
From the outside it is an impressive church with its tall offset tower at the south west end and a smaller Angel tower with a clock, at the end of the north transept.
Inside it is a rather spartan building and the size is almost intimidating. An arcade of tall pointed arches separates the nave and side aisles. Above are very tall clear glass clerestory windows. The change in style of the 1892-1902 additions to the end of the nave is very clear.
There is a lovely and very delicate iron screen across the chancel and side chapels. The carved stone pulpit stands against one of the columns.
The Chancel is apse shaped with a rib vaulted ceiling and three very tall windows filled with brightly coloured glass. The reredos behind the altar has a carving of the Last Supper.
On the south side of the chancel are two small chapels. The first is the War Memorial with a crucifix on the east wall. Next to it is All Souls Chapel with its beautiful triptych painted in 1927 by the Belgian artist Arthur Van Daele
Opposite All Souls Chapel in the south transept is the baptistry and font. This was covered with polythene when I visited in June 2016 as work was being done in the church.
Both the south and north transepts have large round windows which are copies of windows in churches in Rouen.
In a smaller apse to the north of the chancel is the small Lady Chapel with its statue of the Virgin and Child. On the north wall is a painting of the nativity.
Round the base of the ceiling above the stained glass windows are paintings of angels holding shields with the symbols of the passion. This has painted ceiling ribs and gilded bosses.
At the back of the church and separated by a wooden screen is the Urquhart Room which was added in 1986. This houses the church office and coffee shop which has an excellent selection of homemade cakes. The church and coffee shop are open Wednesdays to Saturdays from 10.30 to either 1 or 2pm. The post code is CV31 1AA and the grid reference is SP 320654.
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