Jarrow - St Matthew

York Avenue, Jarrow, Tyne & Wear NE32

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A large post-war church with a light and lofty interior, reminiscent of a hall church. The sanctuary has been re-ordered, leaving few furnishings in their original state although new furnishings were created from the original marble. 

The parish was founded in 1935 from St Bede’s, Jarrow in order to serve the Monkton housing estate. The new church was opened on 9 October 1958, from designs by E.A. Gunning ARIBA. The builders were Messrs A. Gunning & Co of Newcastle, whose senior partner was William Gunning, father of the architect. E.A. Gunning also designed the sanctuary furnishings, pictorial glazing and light fittings for the church.

In October 1961, the presbytery was completed to designs by Pascal J. Stienlet & Son of Newcastle. It replaced an earlier presbytery in Bede Burn Road which originally was used as a convent. In 1969, the parish centre was completed.

Originally the church had windows in Thermolux glazing with monochrome designs: the Holy Family group in three sanctuary windows on the Gospel side, and a Crucifixion group in three windows on the Epistle side. The outer windows in the transepts had depictions of Our Lady of Sorrows and the Sacred Heart. These appear to have been replaced by opaque glazing at some point. Refurbishment in c2008 included a new sprung floor in the nave, re-opening of blocked east windows in both transepts, and extension to the lobby.

The church faces southeast. This description uses conventional liturgical orientation.

The church is a reinforced structure with brick walls in stretcher bond and a slate roof. The plan is cruciform, with a sacristy at the northeast which connects church and house. The west end bay containing the narthex is slightly narrower than the nave, and the chancel walls are canted inwards. The west gable above the recent entrance lobby is dominated by a five-light triangular-headed window with concrete mullions and a triangular hood. It is flanked by two lancet windows with similar hoodmoulds in the recessed outer bays of the west front. The same lancet windows are repeated around the church: five each on the north and south sides, one each to the west and north/south in the transepts, three to the east in the transepts, and three to north and south in the chancel.

The interior possesses more architectural interest than the exterior. Tall, thin arcades on square pillars divide the nave from the side aisles under the same pitched roof whose beams are exposed. The nave is five bays long with a narrower bay at the west. The gallery above the narthex has an organ from a redundant Methodist church in the northwest corner. A wide semicircular arch opens from the gallery into the nave, mirroring the stilted chancel arch at the east. Within the narthex is the former children’s room (now repository).

The north aisle has two confessionals (one now used as a store room) on either side of a side entrance porch. The north transept has a Sacred Heart statue and a timber font. The south transept contains the Lady Chapel with a white marble statue, a modern icon by Sr Annette and a statue of Our Lady Immaculate.

The sanctuary has a black marble altar, tabernacle shelf, lectern and piscina shelf, some of which were created from the dismantled marble pulpit and altar rails. Above the tabernacle hangs a French crucifix and both are encompassed by a golden arched frame. The Stations of the Cross are unpainted, unframed reliefs.

Diocese: Hexham and Newcastle

Architect: E.A. Gunning ARIBA

Original Date: 1958

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not listed