Monday, 15 October 2012

St John the Evangelist, Bath (RC)

St John’s tall steeple and spire is one of the landmarks visible from the train as you go through Bath: at 222ft high, it is the tallest in the city. This large church is a confident statement of faith, and an equally emphatic lesson in the Gothic Revival in this otherwise large Georgian city.

The church was commissioned by the Benedictines and built in 1861-63 to the designs of Charles Francis Hansom (1817-1888) and his son Edward Joseph Hansom (1842-1900). They adopted a flamboyant Decorated Gothic design, almost French in character – exemplified particularly by the rose windows in the transepts - yet the spire owes more to English precedents.

The church is built of rough-faced Bath stone, and has a large aisled nave, with clerestory, transepts, an apsed chancel and side chapels. The interior has pink Devon Granite piers with foliated capitals. The decoration throughout is of high quality, with extensive use of marble and alabaster. The glass and the impressive iron screen in front of the chancel are by Hardman. In the north-west apse is a eliquary, also designed by Charles Hansom, containing the relics of the martyr, St Justina, donated in 1871 after many years in the possession of the Borghesi family.

St John the Evangelist, South Parade, Bath BA2 4AF

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