Doncaster - St Paul

Goodison Boulevard, Cantley, Doncaster, DN5

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A suburban church of the early 1970s, square on plan with the interior arranged on the diagonal axis. The exterior is strong and somewhat fortress-like, while the interior is spacious and light, with notable furnishings by Richard King and Charles I’Anson.

Doncaster Catholics were served from the town centre church of St Peter-in-Chains until missions were established in outlying areas from the late nineteenth century, in response to the influx of Catholics working at collieries. In the 1950s, new housing estates were built on the southeast side of the town in the Cantley area, and in 1957 a Mass centre was established in a small wooden hut in nearby Bessacar. In October 1958, this was replaced by a dual-purpose timber church hall seating 200, and a nearby house was bought to serve as a presbytery. The parish was founded in 1959.

The timber church hall was soon insufficient to meet the growing needs of the parish, and in 1972 designs for a new church and presbytery were prepared for the Rev. M. Malone by John H. Black FRIBA of Huddersfield. The church was built to a square plan on a diagonal axis, a popular plan for churches in the early 1970s. It seated 350 and cost £40,000.  The church opened and was dedicated by the Bishop Wheeler of Leeds and Auxiliary Bishop Moverley on 11 September 1973, when the parish choir sang the Gloria, Credo and Sanctus in English for the first time. The presbytery was completed slightly later.

The original underfloor heating was replaced by fan-assisted gas central heating in 1980 but this too proved inadequate and was augmented in 1987. A new tabernacle was installed in 1983. In 1986 the church was carpeted, two doors replaced and double glazing installed

The church was built to designs of John H. Black of Huddersfield and opened in 1973. It has an austere, somewhat fortress-like external appearance, and is square on plan with modelled corner features; the main worship space forms a single tall volume. The sanctuary is to the east, and the narthex is to the northwest, facing the main road. The building is constructed of loadbearing buff brickwork. The flat roof and deep fascia to the upper walls are laid with seam metal sheeting, with a hexagonal lantern over the sanctuary. The main wall surfaces are blind, with side lighting coming from full-height windows within the projecting buttresses at each corner. The west buttress is triangular on plan. The main entrance is via a projecting reinforced concrete semi-circular-headed porch with a double fibreglass doors, leading into a low flat-roofed single-storey narthex. To the northeast is a flat-roofed sacristy linked to the contemporary presbytery. To the south a porch leads via a path to the parish hall.

The interior is square on plan, arranged on the diagonal axis with the hexagonal sanctuary in the east corner. The floors are carpeted (originally terrazzo in the nave), the walls are faced in a buff brick laid in Flemish bond and the plastered ceiling has a central section lined in polished hardwood with reinforced concrete beams radiating from the sanctuary. The sanctuary is raised by two steps and is lit by the hexagonal lantern above. The sanctuary furnishing follows common post-Vatican II practice, with a forward altar of table form, ambo and font, and the tabernacle placed in a decorated aumbry in the wall (this appears to be an addition of 1983, see parish website). These furnishings are of slate and rendered concrete. The tall single-light window behind the altar has stained glass by Richard King on the theme of the Holy Family (figure 3). King (1907-74) was an Irish stained glass artist and pupil of Harry Clarke.  To the southeast side is a recessed area for the choir. The semi-abstract slate Stations of the Cross are by Charles I’Anson (1924-83, figure 4) (information from Paul Walker). The seating for the congregation comprises hardwood pews arranged in two blocks.

Diocese: Hallam

Architect: John H. Black

Original Date: 1973

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed