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Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Columba and attached gates

A Grade II Listed Building in Wallsend, North Tyneside

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Latitude: 54.9895 / 54°59'22"N

Longitude: -1.5353 / 1°32'7"W

OS Eastings: 429833

OS Northings: 566199

OS Grid: NZ298661

Mapcode National: GBR KBQR.D6

Mapcode Global: WHC3L.DV4C

Plus Code: 9C6WXFQ7+QV

Entry Name: Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Columba and attached gates

Listing Date: 19 September 2016

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1431024

ID on this website: 101431024

Location: Wallsend, North Tyneside, Tyne and Wear, NE28

County: North Tyneside

Electoral Ward/Division: Wallsend

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Wallsend

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Tyne and Wear

Church of England Parish: Wallsend St Peter and St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Tagged with: Catholic church building

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Roman Catholic Church and attached gates, 1957 to the designs of Vincente Stienlet; re-ordered in 1968 and 1990 by Vincente Stienlet (the younger). In style, a fusion of Perpendicular Gothic freely interpreted in a modern idiom, infused with Scandinavian and Art Deco elements. The contractor was Stanley Miller. The attached presbytery, detached former school and associated enclosing walls are excluded from the listing.


Roman Catholic Church and attached gates, 1957 to the designs of Vincente Stienlet; re-ordered in 1968 and 1990 by Vincente Stienlet (the younger). In style, a fusion of Perpendicular Gothic freely interpreted in a modern idiom, infused with Scandinavian and Art Deco elements. The contractor was Stanley Miller.

MATERIALS: steel frame faced inside and out with thin 2-inch bricks; copper covered roofs and all doors are of oak with wrought iron handles outside and silvered bronze handles to the inner sides.

PLAN: the building is oriented north to south but the following directions are liturgical. The church comprises a long nave with narrow aisles, a west narthex and choir gallery, transepts, an apsidal sanctuary, a sacristy and a mortuary chapel.

EXTERIOR: high quality thin 2-inch bricks are lain in a staggered bond with soldier courses at the sills, lintels and eaves. The east end has a high apse with full-height slit windows to the sides and tall narrow brick fins rising above the sanctuary roof. The low, shallow transepts have flat roofs and are lit by five tall, narrow lights with an eaves level soldier course. That to the south side has an attached flat-roofed sacristy, and to the left there is a shallow, flat-roofed former mortuary chapel, plainly detailed save for the full-height narrow light at the east end. The nave with exposed brickwork and soldier courses has five tall, wide windows with Perpendicular lead tracery separated by tall brick fins which rise from the internal aisle columns. Small single-storey, flat-roofed confessionals project from the centre of each side. The square west tower projects from the centre of the main body of the church with a panel of advancing and receding brick crosses above a tall copper-canopied door recess fitted with oak double doors. A tall bell tower rises above, surmounted by a copper-covered drum with splayed brick shafts and a fretwork of stone louvres. Small windows light low narrow links flanking the tower. These lead to square, pyramidal-roofed end pavilions that to the south side with a door. The early C20 attached presbytery is not of special interest and is excluded from the listing.

INTERIOR: the sanctuary is paved in marble (now largely carpeted) and the walls are richly ornamented with geometric marble and mosaic panels, alternating with narrow square brick pilasters. The original altar canopy, with a large black and white marble reredos, stands against the E wall and the original tabernacle is set upon a marble plinth constructed of parts of the original high altar. The original marble communion rails have been reworked around the re-located font to form a baptistry. Other sanctuary furnishings belong to the 1968 and 1990 re-ordering and there is a glass font bowl by local glass maker Morag Gordon. To either side of the sanctuary are the side chapels, similarly ornamented with marble and mosaics and with parts of the original marble communion rails set to the front. The shallow transepts are framed by square, clustered columns in two-tone brick with large formerly exposed brick panels above, now with later marble panels. Double oak doors with glazed crosses lead through the S transept to a sacristy retaining original wooden fittings. The high nave roof is plastered with a flat perimeter soffit and a raised central section incorporating a long central panel of repeating octagonal motifs. The floor is finished with coloured thermoplastic floor tiles (now carpeted), patterned in the aisles and crossing, and installed for their acoustic value. The original mahogany benches are arranged in two blocks with a central aisle. The nave has square brick columns supporting the clerestory walls and forming narrow side aisles with an original confessional with oak boarded doors set to the centre of each outer aisle wall. Wooden Stations of the Cross are hand carved and painted from the studios of Ferdinand Stuflessor, Ortisei, Italy. The square brick columns rise above the aisles to frame a ‘wall of glass’ at clerestory level; the leaded sub-divisions are of modern Perpendicular Gothic character with Cathedral glass, graded from blue at the top, yellow in the middle and grey/white at the bottom. The west end has a narthex screen with double doors flanked by single doors, each with small narrow glazed panels in the shape of a cross. To either side are the former confessionals, that to the right converted to a small store. Above, there is a full-width gallery with an arcaded front, housing the prominent organ at its centre. The original baptistery in the pavilion north of the tower has a stained glass window showing the Baptism of Christ by John Hardman and Company.

SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: attached to the north-west corner of the church there are original double metal gates flanked by a single gate, the former bearing the name of the church. These features contribute to the special interest of the building and are included in the listing. The early C20 detached former school and associated brick enclosure walls are altered and utilitarian in nature and excluded from the listing.


A church had occupied this site since 1904, along with a presbytery and primary school, all contained within a tall perimeter brick wall. However, the early and mid-C20 growth of local industries, including shipbuilding and coal mining, necessitated the construction of a larger church for the growing population. The present church, seating 520, was designed by Vincente G Stienlet of Pascal J Stienlet and Son. Founded in 1904, the practice comprises three generations of architects and is one of the oldest, continuously running practices in the North-East, specialising in ecclesiastical buildings in the Roman Catholic, Church of England and Methodist traditions.

The foundation stone was laid by the parish priest Fr Timothy Obrien in February 1957. The church, dedicated to Our Lady and St Columba, was opened by Bishop Cunningham on 7 October of the same year and consecrated on 13 June 1964. Post-Vatican II reordering of 1968 was carried out by Vincente Stienlet (the younger). The high altar, pulpit and the central section of the communion rails were removed, and a new forward altar was added with the tabernacle placed against the E wall on a plinth incorporating parts from the original high altar. Further reordering by Vincente Stienlet in 1990 involved the creation of a new baptistery in a marble-railed enclosure on the S side of the sanctuary with new font and lectern, and a new organ was installed. In 2013 the church was short-listed for the National Churches Trust Diamond Jubilee Architecture Prize for places of worship judged to be the best sacred places built in the United Kingdom since 1953.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady and St Columba of 1957 to the designs of Vincente Stienlet, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: a striking Perpendicular Gothic design that blends Scandinavian and Art deco elements to successful effect;
* Composition: a bold and impressive building in its volumes, modular elevations and subtle detailing, that is well executed in good quality materials;
* Interior quality: a dramatic, spacious and well-lit interior derived from a high quality design and skilful use of materials and detailing;
* Degree of survival: an intact exterior, and despite some inevitable minor re-ordering of the sanctuary, a largely intact interior, which retains its original architectural detailing in addition to original fixtures;
* Architect: Pascal J Stienlet and Son are a notable firm of architects whose skill is reflected in the architectural quality of this church.

External Links

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