Church of St John the Baptist
44 Thorpe End, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, LE13 1RB
Construction of St John's began in 1839 as the penal Acts against Catholics were being repealed, but much trouble must have beset the project for the Church was not opened until 1842 by the Rt Rev'd Dr Thomas Walsh - Vicar Apostolic of the Central District (the Diocese of Nottingham was not to be created until 1850). The initial congregations comprised Catholics who had attended the Mass Centres at Eastwell and Ashby Folville.
Funding for the Mission in Melton was started by Father Tempest of Grantham and was helped considerably by donations from Mr. John Exton of Eastwell who also left a legacy for maintenance. Their figures appear with St. John the Baptist in the beautiful stained glass east window. According to White's 1846 History & Gazetteer of Leicestershire, the church's design is attributed to Pugin. Colvin 1840, however states the architect as Edward James Willson of Lincoln - a friend and contemporary of Pugin - with Pugin's involvement limited to fixtures and fittings. It should be noted that Colvin was writing when construction on the Church had only just begun and was at least two years away from being finished.
A 2017 report (which can be read here) and numerous Diocesan reports have concluded that the "presence of Pugin looms large" in the design of the church, which is "more scholarly and ecclesiologically 'correct' than in Willson's other gothic designs". It therefore seems sensible to reason that the church is probably by E. J. Willson in collaboration with, or at the very least using designs by, A. W. N. Pugin. Tantalising clues about this partnership can be seen in the church with Pugin's heraldic badge (a black martlet) shown in the east window and a stone head corbel supporting a roof joist bearing a striking similarity to Willson.
Regardless of whether the architect was Pugin, Willson or a collaboration between the two, we feel incredibly privileged to be the current custodians of such a peaceful, prayerful and inspiring house of God, where Jesus is truly present.
- The Church has a small carpark which can be accessed via Goodriche Street and exited via Rutland Street. There is street parking around the Church, but please note there are restrictions in some places.
West Door & North Wall
1960's with Presbytery© britishlistedbuildings.co.uk
Rt Rev Dr Thomas Walsh
Edward James Willson
Augustus W. N. Pugin
Black Martlet (East window)