Webster's Churches

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Sheffield, St Paul, Norton Lees Lane

CHURCHES made up most of the practice's output, starting with Ranmoor Wesleyan Chapel (demolished) in 1870 and the small church of St Paul, Norton Lees Lane (1875-7).

Work for the non-conformists which had included the impressive Trinity Wesleyan Church, London Road (1879), ceased following his appointment in 1894 as one of the Diocesan surveyors for York with special responsibility for the Sheffield Archdeaconry. This gave him constant work until his death, both building new churches and restoring and extending existing ones. He was responsible for building 15 churches in Sheffield alone, more than any other architect, together with others in neighbouring villages. His only recorded work outside South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire was, according to his 1873 RIBA fellowship nomination papers, a chapel and school in Coventry.

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Sheffield, Trinity Wesleyan Church, London Road
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Sheffield, Christ Church, Sheffield Road, Hackenthorpe

Webster's Sheffield churches varied greatly in size although less often in style. They range from the plainest type of mission church such as St James, Retford Road, Woodhouse Mill (1892), through simple but well-proportioned village churches such as Christ Church, Sheffield Road, Hackenthorpe (1899) to the grand churches found in the expanding suburbs of the city such as St Augustine, Brocco Bank (1897), St Cuthbert, Fir Vale (1902-5) and St Oswald, Abbeydale Road (1909-10). His favoured style was generally Early EnglishGlossary Term, probably on the grounds of cheapness, although he was always prepared to work in other styles to match existing work as may be seen in the reticulated traceryGlossary Term used in the aisles added to Christ Church, Heeley in 1890-7.

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Sheffield, St Timothy, Slinn Street

In his last years, perhaps under the influence of his son, J. Douglas Webster, who joined him in the practice around 1900, he produced work in the PerpendicularGlossary Term style at St Timothy, Slinn Street (1910-11), much more in tune with the fashion of the time.


Early English

(E.E.): The first phase of English Gothic architecture, predominant in the period c.1180-c.1250, and making use of the pointed arch for openings and vaulting. Sometimes called lancet style from its use of single narrow windows. These can be grouped together to form plate tracery. Larger arches frequently have narrow multiple mouldings, heavily undercut. Stiff-leaf ornament in high relief, and compound piers (i.e. with groups of shafts), often making use of Purbeck marble, are also characteristic of the period.


English version of late Gothic, developed from the 1320s, which continued into the early 16th century; sometimes abbreviated to Perp. Characterised by large windows with a grid pattern of mullions and transoms, with the mullions continuing to the head to the arch, which is often of flattened or four-centred form. This motif of panel tracery is used also for wall decoration, and on the fan vaults that were used for the most prestigious buildings.

Reticulated tracery

A form of bar tracery used in the early 14th century, with net-like patterns of ogee- (double-curved) ended lozenges.