Amble - Sacred Heart and St Cuthbert

Hallbank Lane, off High Street, Amble, Northumberland NE65

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A useful building that has been expanded and embellished over the years, but with modest architectural interest and character. The small remains of the Manor House in the garden to the south and the well below the church are important survivals of Amble’s early history.

Warkworth Harbour, as it was then known, came into existence in 1838. Mass was said for the Irish labourers employed to build it in various houses in the village by priests from Longhorsley, Alnwick and Felton until 1879, when the land on which the present church stands was bought and a school/chapel built and opened. It includes the site of the Manor House, supposedly a cell or grange of Tynemouth Priory (itself a dependency of St Albans Abbey). The wall fragment with a square headed two-light Perpendicular window standing in the garden to the south of the church reportedly comes from this building. The first resident priest arrived in 1887. 

In 1913, Fr J Walmesley built the church of Our Lady and St Cuthbert. In 1952, Fr Hart added the sanctuary and in 1977, Fr Malia and the men of the parish added the aisles, and renovated the church. In 1987, a further refurbishment took place that included the erection of the stone altar by Vincent Davis and work to the reredos by Andy Simms. The altar was consecrated and the centenary celebrated by Bishop Lindsay 12 June 1987. The wooden windows were replaced by PVC around 2005.

The church faces northwest, being at right angles to the High Street on a bluff of land over the river. For the purposes of this report, conventional liturgical compass points are used, i.e. with the altar at the east. 

The church was first built in 1913, a sanctuary was added in 1952 and the aisles and west end added in 1977. Brick walls and tile hung west gable with PVC windows, pitched roofs with mineral fibre asbestos cement slates and flat felt roofs. A long rectangle in plan, with narrow flat-roofed aisles to the four-bay nave and a similar flat-roofed west entrance and a southeast sacristy. The sanctuary has a taller roof allowing pitched glazing in the gap to the lower nave roof to give extra light in the sanctuary. The east bay of the north nave aisle has a small gabled roof, not expressed inside. The west gable is tile-hung with a central plastic window of six divisions tucked up under the bargeboards. The boarded entrance door faces south and within is a foyer area with a toilet in the northwest corner. 

Internally, the roof trusses have various detail differences, but three in the middle of the nave with iron ties and simple V timbers on the collar are probably of the 1913 church. The 1977 aisles have timber posts supporting a lintel (timber clad steel?). The square PVC windows have an internal timber pelmet giving them a pointed head. At the west end of the nave is a storage space over the foyer.

The sanctuary is of red brick with tyrolean render externally and dark wood panelling inside, presumably of 1952 but remodelled in 1987 when the sanctuary platform was installed, obscuring the bottom of the sacristy door on the south side. The octofoil and its stained glass are probably reused from the 1913 east end, as is the gabled wooden reredos. The windows are long rectangles with internal pointed pelmets like the nave; three to the north and one to the south, all with stained glass of 1996-2006 by Iona Art Glass. The 1987 stone altar is by Vincent Davis and the present form of the reredos without the tabernacle canopy or altar is by Andy Simms.  At the west end of the nave hangs a very good print of Goya’s etching of the Descent from the Cross.

Diocese: Hexham and Newcastle

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1913

Conservation Area: Yes

Modifications: 1952; 1977

Listed Grade: Not listed