Funds raised to repair former Roman Catholic Church in Barnstaple

Historic England has awarded a grant of £196,832 to help repair the old Roman Catholic Church – also known as Old St Mary’s – in Barnstaple.

The Diocese of Plymouth is also meeting the cost of the first phase of repairs to the Grade II listed building.

Work has recently been launched to:

• stabilize the arch and buttresses of the choir by inserting pins and steel clips

• restore and repoint the exterior masonry

• repair the roof structure and cover certain areas with slate

• repair windows



Scaffolding of Barnstaple 2 RC Church (c) Neil Butterfield

The work should be completed this summer. The building will then dry out while plans for its reuse are fully developed, in collaboration with the community.

The church opened in 1855 to serve the growing community in the Trinity area of ​​Barnstaple.

Following its closure as a place of worship in 1984, there were proposals for its demolition.

There is now a concerted effort to repair the building and return it to service.

Selaine Saxby, MP for North Devon, said: ‘I know the community of Trinity Street in Barnstaple has worked hard for many years to persuade the Diocese of Plymouth to repair and restore this church so that it can be used by the community.

“It is wonderful news that the Diocese has launched this project and that Historic England has stepped in to help fund the much needed structural work.

“I can’t wait to see the plans for how we can bring this incredible building back to life.”



Former Church of the Immaculate Conception Barnstaple

Rebecca Barrett, Regional Director of Historic England, said: ‘It’s great to see the repairs to this remarkable building underway. We hope that our support, and that of the diocese, will ensure this for generations to come.

Sir Neil Butterfield, Diocesan Administrator and Chairman of the Project Committee, said: “The Diocese of Plymouth is very grateful to Historic England for their generous contribution to the costs of restoring and refurbishing this important Catholic monument in Barnstaple.

“For too long the old church has been neglected and abandoned: it is an exciting prospect that the building can finally be restored and brought back into use.”

The church was one of the first post-Reformation Catholic churches to be built in Devon. It was designed to serve the community in the Trinity area of ​​Barnstaple which was growing rapidly in the early 19th century.

The site was purchased in 1842 and the church opened for worship in 1855.

It is one of the first and probably the most successful neo-Romanesque design of the county.



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When the church opened in 1855, the North Devon Journal reported that it had been designed by AWN Pugin (1812-1852), the famous pioneer of English Gothic Revival architecture and designer of the interior of the Palace of Westminster and the Elizabeth Tower, home to Big Ben.

However, it is more likely that the architect was Gideon Boyce of Tiverton and the building was completed by RD Gould of Barnstaple.

The Church of the Immaculate Conception functioned as a Roman Catholic place of worship for residents of Barnstaple and surrounding areas until 1984 when a larger church, known as St Mary’s, was built alongside .

St Mary’s remains an active church with weekday and Sunday masses as well as regular weddings, baptisms and funerals.

The Catholic Parish of the Immaculate Conception covers a large geographical area including the towns of Barnstaple and South Molton, many local villages and parts of Exmoor.

There are two churches in the parish – the parish church of St Mary, Immaculate Mother of God, in Barnstaple and the church of St Joseph in South Molton. The parish priest is Canon Peter Morgan.



Left to right: Canon Peter Morgan, Sir Neil Butterfield, Selaine Saxby, Rebecca Barrett

Historic England invites you to share your knowledge and images of listed places, so we can record important facts, and even unlock some secrets.

We’ve changed the design of our listing pages so you can see at a glance the listing details, full listing description, and fantastic listing-enriching contributions that have been added so far. now.

Rebecca said: “Contributors can now add film clips if they have a YouTube account.

“We would like people to add photos, information, memories and film clips (YouTube account required) that will be posted on the list entry information for all to see.

“Find out how to enrich the list here: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/enrich-the-list/.”

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