Today (Thursday 10 November), Historic England publishes its annual Heritage at Risk Register for 2022.
The Register provides an annual snapshot of the critical health of England’s most treasured historic places and those most at risk of being lost to neglect, decay or inappropriate development.
Over the past year, ten historic buildings and sites have been added to the Register in the North West due to their deteriorating condition and ten sites have been saved and their future secured. Many have been saved thanks to heritage partners and dedicated teams of volunteers, community groups, charities, owners and councils, working in conjunction with Historic England.
One of the buildings rescued is the Church of Saints Peter, Paul and Saint Philomena, New Brighton, also known as the “Dome of the House”, sought after by sailors returning from perilous Atlantic voyages.
Trevor Mitchell, Northern Regional Manager at Historic England said“The historic buildings and places we help save bring people together and inspire deep pride and a sense of belonging.
“This year’s successes are a testament to the tireless work of local owners, custodians and volunteers who are taking action to bring historic places back to life and help improve communities across the Northwest.
SAVED: Church of Saints Peter, Paul and Saint Philomena, New Brighton
An iconic feature of the Wirral Peninsula since its completion in 1935, the church’s brick-encapsulated concrete framework and copper dome mark the entrance to the River Mersey.
During World War II, returning sailors sought out the distinctive shape of the “Dome of Home”, a sign that they had survived the perils of the Atlantic.
The church was added to the endangered heritage register after decades of water ingress led to its closure in 2008. A dedicated team from the church and the local community, led by clergy from the Institute of Christ-Roi who looks after the church, galvanized action throughout five phases of restoration work over nine years to bring about its careful restoration and removal from the register.
The first phase began in 2013 to address the area most severely affected by water infiltration, including conservation work on the concrete frame threatening the survival of the entire structure, restoration of windows, repointing of the masonry, repair of the roof and insulation. This was closely followed by projects two (2014) and three (2016) focusing on different high profile areas of this majestic church. Project four (2018-2021) was a bigger challenge, as it involved the concrete restoration of the dome, drum and main roof of the shrine.
Upon final delivery of this project, further work took advantage of the interior scaffolding to transform the interior with new lighting and decoration schemes, centered around the revival of the elegant interior, where a vaulted frame concrete again encloses an impressive worship space. The extensive work has been funded by private donors large and small, and organizations such as the National Lottery Heritage Fund, National Churches Trust, AllChurches Trust, Historic Cheshire Churches Preservation Trust, Wallasey Bright Ideas Fund, Love Wirral, The Latin Mass Society, Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme and the Duchy of Lancaster Benevolent Fund.
Canon Amaury Montjean said“So many people from the local community have been involved in the restoration of both this incredible building and its spiritual purpose. With the expertise and funding provided by so many people and organizations, their belief and determination mean that the Dome of Home will continue to be a much loved landmark and focal point for the community for many years to come.
Images: Historical Archives of England. Main image: Church of Saints Peter and Paul and Saint Philomena, New Brighton. Canon Poucin on the crest line of the barrel-vaulted roof while inspecting the newly preserved dome.