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Roman Catholic Church of St Wilfrid and attached former school room

A Grade II Listed Building in Haltwhistle, Northumberland

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Latitude: 54.9693 / 54°58'9"N

Longitude: -2.4622 / 2°27'44"W

OS Eastings: 370505

OS Northings: 563955

OS Grid: NY705639

Mapcode National: GBR CB7Z.QF

Mapcode Global: WH912.4CR8

Entry Name: Roman Catholic Church of St Wilfrid and attached former school room

Listing Date: 16 May 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1431015

Location: Haltwhistle, Northumberland, NE49

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Haltwhistle

Built-Up Area: Haltwhistle

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Haltwhistle Holy Cross

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

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Former Presbyterian Church and attached school room, 1898 to designs by W L Newcombe, now a Catholic Church. Gothic style.


Former Presbyterian Church and attached school room, 1898-99 to designs by W L Newcombe, now a Catholic Church. Gothic style.

MATERIALS: rock-faced local stone with ashlar dressings and blue slate roof coverings.

PLAN: the building is oriented N to S but the following directions are liturgical. The church comprises an aisled nave, with a tower to its SW corner which has the main entrance in its base. To the rear is a rectangular former school room, constructed at right angles.


CHURCH: occupies a corner site with its W end fronting the main street. It has a steeply pitched roof with decorative ridge tiles and finial. The W end of the nave has a central, stepped five-light tracery window set within an arch with solid spandrels as though it were plate tracery. Attached to the left is the W end of the N aisle with a single pointed-arch window with an ashlar surround. Attached to the right is a tall tower with a pointed-arch entrance to the ground floor, a blind second stage and a gabled upper stage with three small louvered lancet openings above a frieze of three glazed quatrefoils. A short, slated spire emerges from the gabled upper stage. A stone band between the first and second stages of the tower extends across the W end of the church forming a continuous hood mould. The S aisle has three square-headed, timber cross windows with leaded glass and trefoil heads with a continuous ashlar sill band. Rising above the aisle is the S nave clerestory, a continuous band of twelve timber trefoil-headed leaded windows in groups of four; those to the E side retain original leaded glass and those to the W side have replacement glass (from the original leaded lights) with mock lead strip. The N aisle, built against the adjoining property has no aisle windows but the clerestory is visible. The steep and partially visible E end has wooden bargeboards and a series of three louvered openings to the apex with a chimney stack to the right.

FORMER SCHOOL ROOM: attached at right angles to the E wall of the church. It has a slated, steeply pitched roof, and the continuous ashlar sill band to the church continues around the side and rear elevations of the school. The gable end facing Sycamore Street has a central segmental-headed entrance with double-boarded doors and plain fanlight over, flanked by a square-headed window. To the apex there is a pair of ashlar bands and triple louvered openings similar to those of the church’s E end. The rear wall has four similar square-headed windows; all windows are identical to those of the S aisle. The upper parts of all windows retain original leaded glass and the lower parts are replacement sheet glass with mock lead strips.


CHURCH: the church retains its Nonconformist character and comprises a large aisled nave with painted plaster walls, a boarded dado and a wood block floor. The E window is a rose window with quatrefoil tracery and a hood mould with bar stops. The round-arched nave arcades are of timber with pierced quatrefoils to the spandrels, supporting a false tribune above comprising a pair of round arches to each bay with a pierced quatrefoil. Above this rises a timber clerestory comprising four trefoil-headed lights per bay: windows to the N side retain their original leaded quarries while those to the S side have been re-glazed with wired glass and applied leading. An original vestibule to the main entrance in the SE corner has a boarded ceiling divided by diagonal moulded ribs. The nave roof is flat boarded and divided into panels separated by moulded ribs, and diagonal and curved braces spring from the wall posts in each bay. Iron tie rods span the nave from the moulded corbels of the wall posts. The aisles have lean-to roofs with exposed rafters and boarding. Several original fittings are retained including ornate door furniture. There are three banks of deal benches with circulation in the aisles; the benches have numbered ends and metal umbrella stands and holds, the latter fixed with ornate hinges. A few rows have been lost by the insertion of modern partitions at the front of the aisles enclosing spaces now used as a sacristy and a store. The original timber pulpit throne remains with its canted front and stairs to either side with open gothic work panels and ornate newel posts. Alterations to allow for Catholic worship include the installation of a plain forward altar and lectern, plaster statues and simple Stations of the Cross.

FORMER SCHOOL ROOM: a pair of timber doors, one with original stained and leaded glass and the other with replacement sheet glass and mock leading, give access through the E wall of the church into the former school room. This retains the original large open space with the exception of the insertion of a small modern kitchen to the NE corner, where the original stage was located. The original vestry and service stair remain attached to the N; the original door to the vestry has been removed and replaced with a pair of modern openings and the vestry space has been divided and converted to a toilet and scullery. Original features include the timber entrance porch with glazed, trefoil-headed upper parts fitted with leaded glass, a boarded dado and the timber roof structure.


Constructed as a Presbyterian Church, the foundation stone was laid by Alderman Hudspith on 28 July 1898. The architect was William Lister Newcombe FRIBA of Newcastle, and the builder was Isaac Watson. William Newcombe was a respected regional architect who has several listed buildings to his name. The church was opened on 28 June 1899 by the Revd J Christie of Carlisle, and had cost £2,000, including the contemporary schoolroom behind. Leaded glass panels were installed in the doors between the church and school room in 1936, and in 1973 the steeple finials were removed amid concerns that they were unstable. Around 1990 concerns about overcrowding at the then Catholic church in the town led to an agreement with the United Reformed Church (URC) to share their church. The first Catholic Mass was said in the chapel on 3 February 1991, and in July 2010 the building was purchased from the URC for sole use by the Catholic congregation. Subsequent alterations to allow for Catholic worship include the installation of a plain forward altar and lectern and a tabernacle to the wall behind the original pulpit, slight remodelling of the front plaster statues and simple Stations of the Cross.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic church of St Wilfrid and attached former school room of 1898-99, are listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: the church reflects the austerity associated with Presbyterianism but never-the-less has a well-detailed exterior of interest with a three-stage tower and tall continuous clerestory;
* Interior: the church retains its Nonconformist character with a largely original plan and a suite of fixtures and fittings including an unusual timber arcade incorporating a false tribune;
* Architect: designed by William Lister Newcombe, one of Newcastle's leading architects of the time, who has several listed buildings to his name;
* Group value: the church and its attached school room benefit from a functional and proximal group value.

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