Benton - St Aidan

Coach Lane, Benton, Newcastle upon Tyne N12

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The church is a modest structure, built as a parish hall in 1963. It lies within the medieval village, which by the nineteenth century had a number of stone-built villas with large gardens, of which the present presbytery is one. 

The medieval village of Longbenton was, as its name suggests, a long, two-row, settlement. A number of eighteenth and nineteenth stone houses survive surrounded by more recent housing estates. William Whellan’s 1855 Directory said that the parish contained ‘extensive collieries, foundries, quarries, gunpowder-works, &c. - upwards of 1,300 persons are employed in the collieries alone’.

The site of the church is near the centre of the medieval village, and on the south side of the street. The first church was a ‘tin hut’ (corrugated iron), built by 1916 to the immediate west of the present one. The present church was built in 1963 as a parish hall intended to serve a future church. Those hopes were unfulfilled and the ‘hall’ became the church. The sanctuary was redesigned by David Brown in 1978 and reordered in 1990 by Les Stringer (parish files) for the church’s consecration on 13 December 1990.

The church is a function design of 1963, built as a parish hall. The walls are of stretcher bond brick, with artificial stone dressings; the low-pitched roof is covered in copper sheeting. Ritual east is to the south; ritual orientation is referred to in this description.

The church is entered from a recessed two-storey lobby which links hall and church. A plain west door leads to the church from the lobby. The long elevations have six bays, the outer ones blind, the six between them with large rectangular clerestory windows, those on the ritual north with wired glass. A small one-storey extension on the south side holds the sacristies. The exterior of the north and east walls is not accessible.

Inside, the interior is a single open space, with plaster, white painted surfaces. The flat ceiling rests on beams and solid brackets attached to flat wall posts. The wide sanctuary area is raised on one full-width step, with two apron steps to the altar, and two canted steps against the wall on which a crucifix hangs. All the liturgical furnishings are of white marble. A tabernacle stand at the left and ambo at the right have square bases and cornices; two smaller columns support the altar mensa. There are also square supports to the font, to the right on the lowest step. The presidential chair to the left of the altar is in similar style. There is a simple dado rail, interrupted by blank panels, probably intended as doors for the planned hall. Thick timber solid wood benches by Ormsby of Scarisbrick, with rail backs and solid ends, on either side of a central aisle.

Diocese: Hexham and Newcastle

Architect: David Brown

Original Date: 1963

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed