Doncaster - Our Lady of Perpetual Help

High Street, Bentley, Doncaster, DN5 0AT

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A good and little-altered church of the late 1950s, an early work by John Rochford & Partners. Longitudinal in plan and modern in its construction, the interior is light and spacious, with many of its original furnishings. 

Bentley Main colliery opened in 1903, and Bentley New Village was part of the large-scale early twentieth century development of housing for miners and their families.  The local Catholic population was initially served by a Mass centre in the school hall, in use from 1929 to 1952. A parish was erected in 1946, and in 1952 a wooden army hut was acquired and adapted to serve as a chapel. In 1956, a large house of 1929 called Stonecroft at 54 High Street was acquired for a presbytery. In 1959 a permanent church was built behind the presbytery, at a cost of £23,000. The project architect was Edward Saul of John Rochford & Partners, who also designed the fittings.

The sanctuary was reordered in 1977 at the time of the church’s dedication (figure 1). In 2000, a parish hall was built to the rear of the church.

The church is aligned with the sanctuary roughly to the northeast, but in this description this will be referred to as the east, and corresponding compass points used.  

The church was built in 1959 from designs by Edward Saul of John Rochford & Partners. The plan is longitudinal, consisting of a four-bay aisled nave, a sanctuary expressed by set-back walls and lower roof, west narthex and gallery, southwest campanile and porch. The building is steel-framed, faced in two inch brick, built on a concrete raft to resist mining subsidence, and the roof is felted (originally copper). The south side faces the road, with hardwood doors to flat-roofed porches at the west and east ends (the latter porch with a chapel). The slender campanile rises from the southwest corner in the form of a rectangular brick buttress or pylon, with a plain bellcote to the top. The south and north elevations are blind except for a series of raised and shallow gabled clerestory windows on each side. The west wall has a five-light triangular headed window, lighting the gallery. The east wall is blind, light for the sanctuary coming from five-light windows at the sides, similarly detailed to the west window. Flat-roofed sacristies project from the northeast corner.

The interior retains most of its original fittings, and is a well-lit space. Walls are finished in Tyrolean render, floors are laid with linoleum and the sloping ceiling has acoustic panels. The four-bay nave has an expressed frame with reinforced concrete tapered columns defining narrow circulation aisles. All the woodwork is of tropical hardwood, including the pews. The narthex contains a top-lit baptistery with plain font and steel screen and a concrete open-tread staircase to the gallery, with steel stick balusters and hardwood handrail. The sanctuary retains its original fittings, including marble and steel communion rails, railed pulpit and marble flooring, with an adapted marble altar in a forward position. The mosaic and gilded reredos, timber canopy, steel parclose screen and altar in the south Lady Chapel are also from the 1950s. 

Diocese: Hallam

Architect: John Rochford & Partners

Original Date: 1959

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed