April 21st, 2022

The Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary (known locally as St Mary’s) Roman Catholic Church in High Street, Ryde has had its listed status upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*[star] by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on the advice of Historic England.

In a move welcomed by the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth, the building is now among the top 8% of all listed buildings in England, meaning that it is of more than special interest both architecturally and historically.
The Church of St Mary was built between 1844-46 and endowed by Elizabeth Georgina
Burrell, Countess of Clare (1793-1879). It is a fine example of an early Victorian Catholic church and one of the oldest in the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth. It was first listed in 1972. The church is well established and cherished within the local community. The upgrade in status, will allow further work between the Church and local groups and organisations to be realised from increased revenue and tourism to the area, allowing the strengthening and development of further community-based opportunities and initiatives.

“I am delighted to hear that the Church of St Mary, has been given Grade II* listed status. This recognises that it is a site of special interest not just to the church, but to the country too,” said Bishop Philip Egan, Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth.

Sarah Gibson, Listing Team Leader at Historic England, added: “I’m pleased we’ve had the opportunity to reassess the remarkable St Mary’s Church as part of the Ryde High Street Heritage Action Zone and secure a higher level of protection for it through listing.”
“The upgraded listing announcement for St. Mary’s Church is most welcome news for
Ryde’s High Street Heritage Action Zone, as we continue to explore options for the
sympathetic regeneration of the former Convent School and the estate’s grounds, to the rear of the church, with the Parish and members of the local community, along with our partners from Historic England, Ryde Town Council and the Isle of Wight Council,” said Sally Thompson, Project Manager, Ryde Heritage Action Zone (HAZ).

The church is now Grade II* listed for the following reasons:
Architectural interest:
• It is an accomplished, relatively early example of the ecclesiastical designs of Joseph
Stanislaus Hansom, one of the foremost church architects of the 19th Century, who was
responsible for the design of the church and the attached presbytery
• It retains high-quality finishings, including several phases of paintwork and stained
glass attributed to various important 19th Century craftspeople, most notably
Nathanial and Philip Westlake, as well as John Hardman and Company
• The original layout of the church survives well, enhanced by later side chapels and
extensions, including work by J S Hansom
• The more than special architectural interest is principally found in the design
quality of the church, which is of particular note in this instance given the constraints
of its building plot in a prominent position on Ryde High Street.
Historic interest:
• Built in the period between the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act and the reinstatement of the Catholic hierarchy in England 1850, the church represents very well a period of the increasing boldness of Catholic church design, aided by the generous support of its private patroness, the Countess of Clare.
St Mary’s is located in the Ryde Heritage Action zone, a project which is looking at making selected historic buildings central to their local community, whilst preserving the historic features of the parish estate. Consultation within the community is ongoing so that future needs are met including opportunities for local employment, tourism and conservation, whilst maintaining the preservation and appreciation of the assets within the church buildings.

Notes for Editors:
List entry for the Church of St Mary: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list entry/1216915

The Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth comprises 91 parishes, 76 schools across Hampshire, Dorset, Berkshire (except Slough), South Oxfordshire, the Isle of Wight, and the Channel Islands. Formed 19th May 1882 by the division of the Diocese of Southwark, the Diocese of Portsmouth has a presence in every community and can offer ministry and mission to all who come to us, with a total population of 3.2million people.

About Historic England
We are Historic England the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate
England’s spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops. We protect, champion and save the places that define who we are and where we’ve come from as a nation. We care passionately about the stories they tell, the ideas they represent and the people who live, work and play among them. Working with communities and specialists we share our passion, knowledge and skills to inspire interest, care and conservation, so everyone can keep enjoying and looking after the history that surrounds us all. Follow us on social media @HistoricEnglandListing
The National Heritage List for England is held and managed by Historic England on behalf of the Government and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. It identifies the buildings, sites and landscapes which receive special protection, so they can be enjoyed by current and future generations. There are over 400,000 items on the List, covering England’s most valued historic places. There are three grades of listing – Grade II, Grade II*[star] and Grade I.

For further information, see What is Listing?
Enrich the List
The List has over 400,000 entries and we invite you to share your knowledge and images of listed places, so we can record important facts, and even unlock the secrets of some. We’ve changed the design of our listing pages so you can see at a glance the listing details, the full description of the listing and the fantastic Enriching the List contributions that have been added so far. Contributors can now add in film clips if they have a You Tube account. We’d love for people to add in photos, information, memories and film clips (You Tube account needed) which will be published on the list entry information for all to see. Find out how to enrich the list here: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/enrich-the-list/

About High Streets Heritage Action Zones
In 2019 both Ryde and Newport were accepted into Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zones programme following applications from Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council and Ryde Town Council, both supported by Isle of Wight Council. A range of projects commenced in 2020 to help regenerate the two towns’ historic high streets. Visit: https://iwhaz.uk/
The High Streets Heritage Action Zones is a £95 million government-funded programme led by Historic England, designed to secure lasting improvements and help breathe new life into our historic high streets for the communities and businesses that use them. Historic England is working with local people and partners to unlock the rich heritage on these high streets, through repair and improvement works as well as arts and cultural programmes, making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors. https://historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/heritage-actionzones/regenerating-historichighstreets