The building I was given for the Broad Street brief was The Church of Our Lady & St. Augustine. I spent several hours on my sketch of the entrance and bell tower. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to fit all of the bell tower into my drawing which has shown me that I need to take greater care in the initial stages to plan and scale well.
On the day, before sitting down to draw, we rang the doorbell of the vicarage to ask permission from the priest to sit in the courtyard. We were greeted with a warm welcome; he informed us that we were welcome to go inside the church, too, and that there was a man working on restoring the decorative paintwork around the ceiling. He also told us that he would be leaving that day for a new parish in Grantham.
I knew from the brief that I needed to make some investigations into the history of the building however I didn’t feel comfortable asking Father Chris when he was busy with moving.
Instead I went to Stamford Library a few days later to see what I could find there. Through looking at some local history books I discovered that the church is Victorian. It was designed by George Goldie in 1862, and opened 2 years later. At the time the Stamford Mercury are recorded as anticipating it to be “the prettiest modern Gothic building in town.” It follows the typical Gothic style of the era, combining church, vicarage and school in one. It features a relief design of The Virgin Mary and child, a reverse of the Stamford town seal. The style of the building has been described as ‘hotch potch’ and ‘derivative’ compared to the more impressive architecture of other towns of the time. It would seem the Stamford was fading from its former glory in the 19th century.
The towns’ population doubled between 1800 and 1851, which could be an indicator of the need to build a new Catholic church in an area and during an era where Catholicism was not particularly common.
The librarians at Stamford library had a great deal of knowledge of about local history and were very helpful with our research. One of them told me that the church was built around the time of the Catholic emancipation which could be an interesting point to research into further.
Crosbyheritage.co.uk, (2015). St. Mary and St. Augustine’s Church (Stamford) – Colin Crosby Heritage Tours. [online] Available at: http://www.crosbyheritage.co.uk/location/stamford/st-mary-and-st-augustines-church/ [Accessed 14 Sep. 2015].
Rogers, A. (1983). The Book of Stamford. Barracuda Books.
Smith, J., Smith, M. and Merriman, I. (1986). Stamford Museum: Victorian Town Trail. Stamford Museum.
The Town of Stamford. (1977). The Royal Commission.