Friday, May 11, 2012

Clarendon Park Cathedral

This is St John the Baptist in Clarendon Park Road, Leicester. It is not a cathedral, but it has been described as "one of the best Victorian Churches in the Midlands". It was built in 1884-5 by the Leicestershire architect Joseph Goddard, who was also designed the new church at Tur Langton.

St John the Baptist is a tall brick church rather in the North European style. It has its buttresses inside and they are pierced to allow for narrow aisles on either side of the nave and a gallery around three sides above.

But there could have been a cathedral in Clarendon Park. There is a Church of England primary school on the other side of the road from St John the Baptist. It stands on land that were originally part of the grounds of 'Stoney Gate', one of the long-disappeared great houses on the west side of London Road I wrote about the other day. At one time it belonged to a Major Freer.

A Leicester Mercury article from last year tells us something intriguing about this site:
In the 1930s Major Freer gave four acres of his land to the Diocese of Leicester with the intention that it should provide the site for a new cathedral. However the Second World War intervened and the project never got off the ground.
I would like to know the source for this story, but it is possible that it was something more than an eccentricity of the Major's.

There was a Leicester diocese in Saxon times, but the one that exists today was carved out of the diocese of Peterborough as 1926.

I have read that there was some debate over where the new diocese's cathedral should be. St Martin's, Leicester, is not the largest or most impressive of cathedrals and some thought St Mary's, Melton Mowbray, should become the cathedral instead.

So it is not impossible that a new building had its supporters too - one to investigate.

No comments: