Our initial research centred on visits to other churches by designed by Adrian Gilbert Scott. We visited St Leonard’s at St Leonards-on-Sea (Anglican); Our Lady and St Rose of Lima at Weoley Castle, Birmingham; and St Anthony’s at Wythenshawe, Manchester - all of which are strikingly similar to Our Lady of Victories (OLOV) in plan and detail, with Hornton stone dado and passage aisles. Aylesbury Priory was also visited. Weoley Castle and Wythenshawe have a more unified interior scheme than OLOV which helped us in an understanding of Scott’s original intentions.
Additionally Monsignor Curry expressed his interest (an interest we share) in the work of architects Maguire and Murray in the 1960s. We revisited their churches at Perry Beeches, Birmingham, and at West Malling Abbey. The strong visual simplicity of their work, achieved through modest means, is an inspiration although, in the end, we felt that their style would have too much of a Constructivist feel for OLOV.
In 2016 the church gained listed status and so our research took on a very different direction as it became imperative to prove the current Sanctuary furnishings at OLOV were a mixture of unrelated pieces and had not been originally designed and commissioned by Scott. This started with an in-depth process of research into manufacturers of church furnishing.
The 'Society of Faith’s' Faith-Craft was a charitable organisation set up in 1916 and produced inexpensive church furnishings for 50 years, It was conceivable that Scott had specified some of their furniture for OLOV, possibly as a cost-cutting exercise. He may even have commissioned them in the production of original designs. Faith-Craft generally worked for Anglican churches, and we successfully confirmed that they did not work alongside Scott. They were enthusiastic in suggesting that Watts & Co, a manufacturer of church furniture set up by Scott’s father, could provide some answers. Further research led us to RIBA where we were able to look at all that was remaining of the original drawings (see main image above, and below) and water colours of Scott.
This enabled us to confirm finally that, although the nave pews were possibly designed by Scott - very similar examples are found at Wythenshawe and Weoley Castle - the existing Sanctuary furnishings at OLOV are an accumulation of off-the-shelf pieces, left-overs and loans from other churches.
It is against this historical background that we felt justified in removing the existing, and proposing a unified scheme of furnishings that paid homage to Scott, by honouring the contemporary and respecting the historical.