Our Lady and St Alphonsus Catholic Church
In 1846 the Hornyold family funded the building of a Catholic church in Hanley Swan. Our Lady and St Alphonsus, with adjoining presbytery, was built on land donated by Thomas Charles Hornyold and was paid for by his nephew John Vincent Gandolfi-Hornyold at a cost of £30,000 (£2m today). It was designed in the Gothic Revival style by the architect Charles Hansom, whose brother designed Birmingham Town Hall and also the Hansom cab. The furnishings, including a fine tiled floor made by Mintons, were by the architect and designer A W Pugin.
A cloister joins the church to the presbytery, which was originally built as a monastery to accommodate a community of nine Redemptorists – an order founded in the 18th century by St Alphonsus to work among the poor of Naples. John Vincent Gandolfi had met them while travelling on the Continent and invited them to establish a house at Blackmore. But they left in 1851 and the building was turned into a priest’s house. After the Blackmore Park sale of 1919, ownership of the church and presbytery was transferred to the archdiocese of Birmingham. In 1944-45 there were 12 weddings at the church between Americans from the military hospital in Blackmore Park and English or Irish girls.
Today the priest lives at Upton, where more than half the 600 Catholics in the area live, but has an office at Blackmore, and the presbytery is rented to a Catholic family.