On the 15th November 2011 John Penrose, Minister for Tourism and Heritage, added St. Joseph's Church to the list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. The building is now listed at Grade II and joins the three other listed buildings (St. Mary's Church, Upton Hall and Upton Manor) and one scheduled ancient monument (site of the Norman Church and graveyard) in Upton [In 2017 Upton Library became the fifth listed building in Upton].
Listing helps to mark a buildings significance and celebrate its special architectural and historical interest. It brings specific protection so that its special interest can be properly considered in managing its future.
English Heritage's assessment of the church states:
St Joseph's Church, Upton is a bold and striking building designed by a notable architect, Adrian Gilbert Scott. Although not generally as well known as other members of his illustrious family, Adrian Gilbert Scott is nevertheless a significant architect in his own right who trained under Temple Moore and specialised in ecclesiastical commissions, most of which were for the Roman Catholic Church. Scott's skill as an architect is reflected in the fact that he has several listed buildings to his name, many of which are churches, including St Joseph's RC Church, Harrow (1929-31, Grade 11), the Church of Our Lady of Beauchief & St Thomas of Canterbury, Sheffield (1931-2, Grade 11), and the Church of St Mary & St Joseph, Poplar, London (1951-4, Grade 11). Scott also produced a number of designs with his brother, Sir Giles, including St Leonard's Church, Hastings (1953-61, Grade 11), and also other ecclesiastical designs as part of the partnership of Reynolds & Scott, including the RC Church of St Willibrords, Manchester (1937-8, Grade 11), and the former chapel at Hopwood Hall College, Middleton (1964-5, Grade 11, by Frederick Gibberd in association with Reynolds & Scott). St Joseph's Church, Upton compares very favourably with these listed churches in terms of its quality of design and intactness, and indeed shares stylistic traits with some of them.
Externally, the church is unaltered and has a bold and finely articulated design that fuses together modern and traditional detailing and influences (a feature of Gilbert Scott's work shared with his brother, Sir Giles) to successful effect. It is believed to be the smallest church designed by Adrian Gilbert Scott, yet his design and composition with a dominant SW tower provides it with a strong and imposing presence, enhanced by the fact that it is set back from the road; a planning requirement that brings an architectural gain. The exterior's simplicity of detailing is expressed in its stripped Perpendicular Gothic styling, clean lines and its use of high quality materials, including buff brickwork interspersed with well-placed and subtle ornamentation and a Lombardic tile roof; elements that combine to produce an elegant composition.
The building's accomplished subtlety of design is carried through into the interior, which incorporates impressive camel-vaulted arches to the nave side walls, sanctuary and choir gallery; a characteristic of Gilbert Scott's work. A massive camel-vaulted arch features in the entrance porch of his Church of St Mary & St Joseph, Poplar, London mentioned above, inspired by his brother Giles' designs (never implemented) for Coventry Cathedral and also derived from Persia. The effect of the arches within the interior of St Joseph's, Upton, and the tall dado of Blue Horton stone contrasting with pale plastered walls above, produces an imposing and dignified space that is enhanced by the use of tall, elegant windows with plain leaded glazing that maximise light within the interior. The interior's design quality is further complemented by good quality features and fittings , including patterned quarry tile, parquet and marble floors, a marble altar, and partly glazed, geometric panelled doors. Although some minor alteration has taken place, such as the moving forward of the altar and the alterations to the reredos, these works have not adversely affected the character of the church or its special interest, which remains intact.
With a distinguished composition and strong level of architectural detailing, and a high level of interior survival, it is considered that St Joseph's RC Church successfully fulfils the national criteria for listing. Consequently, it is recommended to list.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION DECISION:
St Joseph's Church, a Roman Catholic church constructed in 1953-4 to the designs of Adrian Gilbert Scott, is recommended for designation at Grade II for the following principal reasons :
- Architectural quality: a striking and bold stripped Perpendicular Gothic exterior employing a blend of modern and traditional influences, and using high quality materials, including buff brickwork, sparse ashlar ornamentation and a Lombardic tile roof.
- Architect: designed by the notable architect, Adrian Gilbert Scott who trained under Temple Moore and specialised in ecclesiastical commissions for the Roman Catholic Church.
- Intactness: survives little altered and retains the majority of original features.
- Interior quality: the interior contains good quality fixtures and fittings, and has an impressive simplicity of design that incorporates Gilbert Scott's characteristic camel-vaulted arches and tall dado of Blue Horton stone contrasting with pale plastered walls above.