WOLVERHAMPTON A TALE OF TWO CITIES
My pictures and stories I hope will illustrate the many changes which have taken place in Wolverhampton at various times particularly in relation to the street scene and general landscape.
If you recall in part 4, I was talking about the Two Great Survivors, but if you missed it, follow this link:
North Street in Wolverhampton – As it was…
Save our parish church
A Charitable Trust has been set up to ensure that all contributions will be used towards the costs of restoration.
The Chairman is Mr. Peter Giffard, whose family was associated with the building of the original Giffard House, and the Trustees are drawn from the general community.
The cost of the Restoration Work is over £1.25 Million
The Target for this Appeal is £265,000
GIFFARD HOUSE & THE GREAT APPEAL
The restoration of Gifford House and Chapel of St. Peter and Paul is important not just because they are buildings of the early 18th century of which few remain in Wolverhampton, but because the story of Gifford House is now part of the heritage of Wolverhampton.
The house built as if it were to be a gentleman’s residence and very much in the style of the south wing of Chillington Hall, was always intended to be a place wherein Roman Catholics could follow their faith.
That Roman Catholics were able to do just that at that time was largely due to the tolerance shown by the people of Wolverhampton.
In the hustle and bustle of modern industrial life where market forces are paramount, the restored Gifford House and the Chapel will serve to remind us that tolerance of other people’s views and beliefs is important for the future well-being of the people of Wolverhampton.
WHY PRESERVE THIS HOUSE?
Giffard House is a fine example of early Georgian domestic architecture of which, sadly, few examples survive today in Wolverhampton.
It is unique in that not only has it retained its original appearance and layout substantially unaltered, but it is still in use for its original purpose.
( The few remaining Georgian houses in the town have now been converted for commercial use).
Now known as the Church of SS Peter and Paul is itself architecturally outstanding.
It is unique in the way in which it has grown from the original chapel yet makes a harmonious whole.
The present nave(1828) was the work of Joseph Ireland whose many churches and chapels have been demolished except for this church and two others.
The most striking features are the segmental saucer dome over the sanctuary, the barrel vault (with heavily coffered ribs) of the nave, the unusual lighting by lunette windows high up in the sidewalls, and the fine plasterwork.
The South chapel by Goldie (1901) with its Grecian pilasters and full Ionic columns is a most satisfying addition to the building, as is the altarpiece in the Lady Chapel from the 1920s.
The memorial brasses (especially to Bishop Milner) and the oil paintings are of high quality.
WHERE IS GIFFARD HOUSE
Gifford House and its integral chapel ( the Catholic Church of SS Peter & Paul) are in North Street in the centre of Wolverhampton.
It is in keeping with its special history that it has always been unassertive and, in general unnoticed.
But as a result of the extensive redevelopment of the surrounding area in the past half a century, the chapel, hidden behind the house for over 250 years, is now for the first time fully visible, making Gifford House a very satisfying architectural group standing high above the `Ring Road’.
WHY GIFFARD HOUSE IS SPECIAL?
Architecturally it is an early Georgian three-story townhouse built between 1726 and 1733.
It is a grade II listed building, starred as being of special interest.
Internally the main feature is a fine oak staircase of outstanding craftsmanship rising through all three floors and -unusually – double in the upper part.
Integral with the house from the beginning, and the sole purpose of it being built, was the public chapel for the Catholics of Wolverhampton, a town well – known for the ‘stubborn Papists’ living there.
The present church, an organic growth at various times from the original chapel, is itself architecturally important – “one of the finest churches in Wolverhampton” – Pevsner: The buildings of Staffordshire, 1974.
The demise of North Street continuing… with…..The Other Survivor