Manor Road, St Helen Auckland, Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham DL14
A cheaply-built church and hall of the 1950s, incorporating a stone-built early Victorian building, possibly a schoolroom.
This is one of three churches built in the area in the 1950s. The others were St Mary’s in Bishop Auckland and a chapel (since closed and demolished) at Eldon. It incorporates a small early Victorian building (possibly a schoolroom), off which two wings were constructed at right-angles – one for the church, the other for the hall. Beyond the church is a priest’s house, probably Victorian. The church was originally dedicated to St Philomena (who was removed from liturgical calendars in 1961 after doubts about her authenticity). The desire to rationalise church provision in the Bishop Auckland area, as well, as the cost of likely repairs and maintenance at St Paulinus’, have led to a proposal to close it. It is understood a decision will be made late in 2012.
In the angle between the church and the hall is a two-bay, early Victorian building built of local stone which provides the entranceway to both: it may have been a schoolroom originally. The church and hall are similar in appearance and no doubt dating from the same time. Both are faced with pebbledash but the church has narrow, flat-roofed lateral projections for the aisles and also some simple round-arched windows which the hall does not.
After the unprepossessing exterior, the interior of the church is a pleasant, attractive light space – a simplified form of the passage-aisled basilican planning that was so popular for Catholic churches in the 1930s. There are lintels over the openings between the nave and aisles.
There is a simplified classical altar-cum-reredos of moderate distinction and a well-made wooden forward altar, probably of the 1970s.
Architect: Not known
Original Date: 1955
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed