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Greater Manchester, Manchester, Wythenshawe, Newall Green, St Francis Church

Church (20th Century)

Site Name Greater Manchester, Manchester, Wythenshawe, Newall Green, St Francis Church

Classification Church (20th Century)

Canmore ID 284678

Site Number SJ88NW 1

NGR SJ 8147 8755

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/284678

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Not Applicable
  • Parish Not Applicable
  • Former Region Not Applicable
  • Former District Not Applicable
  • Former County Not Applicable

Sir Basil Spence

Building Notes

In December 1956 Basil Spence and Partners was commissioned to design St Francis Church in Wythenshawe, Greater Manchester. The project was part of a large building programme by the Manchester Diocese and was to service the new post-war housing estate at Newall Green. The site housed an existing hall that had been serving a dual-purpose as church and church hall but which reverted to use as a church hall once the new church was opened. The foundation stone was laid by Colin Skinner CBE on 23 April 1960 and the church was consecrated on 25 March 1961 by the Bishop of Manchester, W D L Greer.

The main building is predominantly brick; it is set back from the road by a landscaped courtyard that includes a brick tower and 73ft concrete cross. Another large cross rises from the front wall of the church itself making it highly visible from the surrounding neighborhood.

The church can hold a congregation of 250. A small chapel is separated from the main church by a sliding screen and can be used independently for private prayer and mid week-services. On busy days the screen can be retracted to provide additional seating to the main church. A gallery over the entrance porch houses two organs and the choir.

Embroidery for the Church was designed by Anthony Blee and carried out by Beryl Dean and Associates, and Communion silver was specially designed by Gerald Benney.

Archive Details and Summary

The Sir Basil Spence Archive holds three manuscript files, 17 photographs and four drawings relating to St Francis Church, Whythenshawe.

The manuscript material includes a publicity article from The Architect and Building News and a small booklet that gives a concise description of the church and the history of the project. Among the 17 photographs are sketches from January 1958 showing the internal arrangements of the church and an external sketch dated October 1957. Also included are several construction photographs.

The drawings for the project show a plan, elevations and a perspective of the church; David Rock drew a perspective of the interior. The Archive also includes two very large preparatory sketches by the artist William Chattaway for a mural of St Francis. Unusually, a sculpture was also made as part of the design process for the mural which was to be a prominent feature of the church, although it was not ultimately commissioned for cost reasons. Instead Chattaway designed the mural depicting St Francis preaching to the birds that decorates the wall behind the altar.

This text was written as one of the outputs of the Sir Basil Spence Archive Project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, 2005-08.

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