– Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, Church of St Mary, Ryde, IOW upgraded to grade II* listing

*Press release from Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth

Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, Church of St Mary, Ryde, IOW upgraded to grade II* listing

The Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary (known locally as St Mary’s) Roman Catholic Church in High Street, Ryde has had its listed status upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*[star] by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.

In a move welcomed by the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, the building is now among the top 8% of all listed buildings in England, meaning that it is of more than special interest both architecturally and historically.

The Church of St Mary was built between 1844-46 and endowed by Elizabeth Georgina Burrell, Countess of Clare (1793-1879). It is a fine example of an early Victorian Catholic church and one of the oldest in the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth. It was first listed in 1972. The church is well established and cherished within the local community. The upgrade in status, will allow further work between the Church and local groups and organisations to be realised from increased revenue and tourism to the area, allowing the strengthening and development of further community-based opportunities and initiatives.

“I am delighted to hear that the Church of St Mary, has been given Grade II* listed status. This recognises that it is a site of special interest not just to the church, but to the country too,” said Bishop Philip Egan, Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth.

Sarah Gibson, Listing Team Leader at Historic England, added: “I’m pleased we’ve had the opportunity to reassess the remarkable St Mary’s Church as part of the Ryde High Street Heritage Action Zone and secure a higher level of protection for it through listing.”

“The upgraded listing announcement for St. Mary’s Church is most welcome news for Ryde’s High Street Heritage Action Zone, as we continue to explore options for the sympathetic regeneration of the former Convent School and the estate’s grounds, to the rear of the church, with the Parish and members of the local community, along with our partners from Historic England, Ryde Town Council and the Isle of Wight Council,” said Sally Thompson, Project Manager, Ryde Heritage Action Zone (HAZ).

The church is now Grade II* listed for the following reasons:

Architectural interest:

  • It is an accomplished, relatively early example of the ecclesiastical designs of Joseph Stanislaus Hansom, one of the foremost church architects of the 19th Century, who was responsible for the design of the church and the attached presbytery
  • It retains high-quality finishings, including several phases of paintwork and stained glass attributed to various important 19th Century craftspeople, most notably Nathanial and Philip Westlake, as well as John Hardman and Company
  • The original layout of the church survives well, enhanced by later side chapels and extensions, including work by J S Hansom
  • The more than special architectural interest is principally found in the design

quality of the church, which is of particular note in this instance given the constraints of its building plot in a prominent position on Ryde High Street.

Historic interest:

  • Built in the period between the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act and the reinstatement of the Catholic hierarchy in England 1850, the church represents very well a period of the increasing boldness of Catholic church design, aided by the generous support of its private patroness, the Countess of Clare.

St Mary’s is located in the Ryde Heritage Action zone, a project which is looking at making selected historic buildings central to their local community, whilst preserving the historic features of the parish estate. Consultation within the community is ongoing so that future needs are met including opportunities for local employment, tourism and conservation, whilst maintaining the preservation and appreciation of the assets within the church buildings.

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