Convent church and mortuary chapels among top ten ‘most endangered’ Victorian buildings

14 September 2018

The Victorian Society campaigns to preserve Victorian and Edwardian architecture

VICTORIAN SOCIETY

The Brandwood End cemetery chapels

The Brandwood End cemetery chapels

AN IMPOSING convent church in central Leeds and two mortuary chapels are on the list of the Victorian Society’s top ten most endangered buildings in the UK.

The society, which campaigns to preserve Victorian and Edwardian architecture, has put St Mary’s Convent Church, Leeds — a redundant Roman Catholic church — and two damaged chapels in a Birmingham cemetery on its most neglected list, published this week.

The imposing Grade II* listed St Mary’s Convent Church (below) has been closed for almost 30 years, and, despite planning permission to convert to residential use, nothing has been done to the building. Situated next to a Catholic high school, the church was discovered to have a coal mine underneath it, with a shaft leading off the sacristy.

The red brick chapels in Brandwood End cemetery, Birmingham, have also been closed for three decades, and have suffered from an arson attack. The council promised £76,000 to restore the chapels in 2012, but stringent local-government spending cuts meant that the promise had to be withdrawn.

St Mary’s Convent Church

The churches conservation adviser for the Victorian Society, James Hughes, said: “I was really shocked at the condition of St Mary’s church when I visited; realistically, that is what 30 years of neglect will do. And what’s more confounding is all the new developments surrounding it, and the school next door — it’s surrounded by life, but it’s just been left to rot, it’s heartbreaking.

“The same with the Birmingham cemetery chapels — they should be the pride and joy of Brandwood End cemetery, not something to be boarded up and hidden from view. It’s such a shame they came so close to regeneration, which was then snatched away.”

The president of the society, Griff Rhys Jones, said that every building on the endangered list was “crying out for redevelopment, and could make something truly wonderful for its community”.

Also on the list are the Winter Gardens, Great Yarmouth; Bromley by Bow gasholders, in London; and the John Summers steelworks, Shotton, in Wales.

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