These are the magnificent West doors to St Giles Catholic Church in Cheadle, Staffordshire. By happy coincidence we ended up there on our journey back to Sheffield, because we had missed our junction to leave the M6 and ended up one further on, and heading across country. Imagine our delight to see a signpost for "Pugin's Gem" at the head of a small road we needed to take. My daughter quickly consulted her mobile, and found that it was in Cheadle, which we had to go through anyway.
The same heraldic lions appeared in miniature on the side door.
A simple stained glass window showing the Agnus Dei. (This is the title for Jesus, coined by John the Baptist, who said, on seeing Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." The Lamb of God title is used in Christian prayers, and the Agnus Dei is a standard part of the Catholic mass.)
The church was mostly in darkness as we went in, although the High Altar and Pulpit were lit. We explored, marvelling at the beauty of the interior, and only when giving donations at the end, did we notice that there was a meter which if you put £1 in, gave you 15 minutes' lighting!!!
THAT was more like it! What stunning patterns . . .
I think what the colour and designs did, more than anything for me, was to give an idea of what churches looked like in Medieval times, with colour and wall paintings illustrating scenes from the Bible. Which is, of course, what you also got in St Giles'.
Whilst this might not be to everyone's taste - this did actually remind me of the colours and painting on an old steam Fairground ride I once saw in Salisbury - it has Pugin absolutely stamped all over it! (As an aside, I was watching a programme with Kirsty Allsopp in it the other evening, and she had a dress in green and yellow that was for all the world like the wallpaper in Pugin's house, only without the Gothic lettering . . .)
I have to say, it just left us speechless.
The floor tiles looked so Medieval too.
The beautifully-carved figure of Christ.
The Virgin Mary.
Lastly, the High Altar.
Today, Alton Towers to us means the huge theme park, but in the 1840's it was the home of the Earl of Shrewsbury, a practicing Roman Catholic. He commissioned Augustus Pugin to commence work on a Catholic Church in Cheadle in 1841. Pugin toured "the very cream of Norfolk's churches" in preparation for his designs, drawing various aspects of Medieval design, and he also travelled to Antwerp to find inspiration for the windows at Cheadle. Local quarries produced the sandstone for the building, whilst the extensive estates of Lord Shrewsbury provided some wonderful Oak and Elm . . .
Detail of a pew back.
HERE is a link to the Wikipedia page which will give you greater details. I hope you get the chance to visit this amazing building one day.