Bells Close, Newcastle-upon-Tyne - St George

Scotswood Road, Bell’s Close, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE15

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The church was donated by the local landowner, and was commissioned from a distinguished firm of architects who worked widely in the diocese. It is the second oldest building in the area, after the nearby Anglican church of 1837. Architecturally, the church is an example of the polychromatic brick Gothic style promoted by G. E. Street and others. 

In the eighteenth century, riverside Bell’s Close and Lemington were industrial areas, with glass works and iron works. Wagonways from collieries further upstream brought coal down to the staithes at the river’s edge, where it was transferred to keels which carried the coal downstream past Tyne Bridge, to be loaded into waiting colliers. In 1825 Mackenzie described it as ‘an irregular built village’ with ‘a number of cottages... inhabited partly by people employed in the Lemington iron-works’. There were also coal-tar works, and factories producing bricks and tiles, and tallow. When Irish immigration increased in the middle of the nineteenth century there was a great need for a Catholic church to serve the many railway workers, coal miners, and workers in the glass and iron works. The church of St George was opened in 1869 and with its furnishings was paid for by Richard Lamb of West Denton (Diocesan archives: parish file correspondence).

The church was reordered and consecrated in 1982; it has since been further reordered. 

As heavy industry has declined so has the population, but there are many new houses around the church and between the river and the main Hexham road.

The exterior of the church and presbytery are described in the list entries (below), but the interiors are not described. The church orientation is reversed, with ritual east at the west. It is brick-built, using Flemish bond; red brick for the rear elevation and white for all others, except for polychromatic eaves detail and surrounds to openings; ashlar window sills. The entrance porch in the south tower is closed and the ritual west door is the principal entrance. The tower has no ridge finial.

The interior is painted brick with a panelled dado. The chancel and sanctuary are narrower than the nave and are separated from it by a brick chancel arch. Corbelled wall posts support roof trusses, the nave ceiled at first purlin with diagonally-boarded panels and central ventilation holes, the sanctuary with full-height rafters and polygonal apse with stencil decoration on ribs. The windows have pointed arched tops, except for those in the sanctuary, which have high-quality stained glass in geometrical patterns, and the ritual west windows, which have heraldic motifs. There is a full-width glazed screen to ritual west entrance.  

The sanctuary was reordered in an asymmetrical style in December 1982 (Diocesan property file), by Bill Stonor, architect (of Faulkner Brown Hendy Watkinson & Stonor), with the tabernacle set in the wall, and a new stone altar and font. (Pers. comm. in 1984 by the parish priest to G. McCombie). It has since been rearranged symmetrically by Fr James Kean. Fittings include a Gothic-style presidential chair and Paschal candle holder. The seating consists of plain pine pews with open backs. Three brass and bronze memorial panels to members of the Lamb family are resited in the link to the presbytery. 

Diocese: Hexham and Newcastle

Architect: A.M. Dunn

Original Date: 1869

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II