Building » Brooms – Our Blessed Lady and St Joseph

Brooms – Our Blessed Lady and St Joseph

A692, Brooms, Leadgate, Co. Durham DH8

A large Victorian church by E.W. Pugin, replacing a late eighteenth-century chapel (now the sacristy). The presbytery is of the same date as the original chapel. Pugin’s church has a spacious interior with a scissor braced roof and a wide chancel arch affording clear views of the altar. The Caen stone high altar and reredos survive, along with a Gothic altar in a side chapel. 

Several local Catholic families had chaplains during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, including the Meaborne family of Pontop Hall. The Jesuit mission at Pontop Hall was the direct predecessor of the Brooms mission. In 1733, Anthony Meaborne had left £500 in his will to the Jesuits to say Mass once a month at Pontop Hall. In the early 1790s, the mission priest at Pontop Hall was Fr Thomas Eyre, who initiated the building of a church and a house at Brooms. In 1793, John Smith of High Broom Farm donated a freehold plot of between four and five acres adjoining the Pontop estate. In 1794-96, a chapel dedicated to St Cuthbert was built, along with a priest’s house. The presbytery was initially home to a group of French refugee priests from Douai who helped complete the house and chapel. (The Douai students were at Crook Hall nearby until 1808 when they moved to Ushaw.) The chapel was formally opened on 12 September 1802 by the great Catholic historian the Rev. (Dr) John Lingard, marking the beginning of the Brooms mission. Between 1819 and 1837, this was served from Esh. In 1845 the chapel was enlarged by the addition of a chancel.

The establishment of the Consett Ironworks in the 1840s, together with Irish immigration after the Great Famine, meant a large increase in the Catholic population of the area and led to the founding of St Mary’s church, Blackhill (qv). A new church by E.W. Pugin was erected in Brooms beside the eighteenth-century house and chapel, the latter of which became the sacristy. The foundation stone was laid on 14 July 1868 (according to the Pugin Gazetteer) and the church was opened by Bishop Chadwick on 25 October 1869.

In 1927, new electric lights were installed, as well as a carved side altar, an oak screen, a high altar frontal and extended altar rails. The church was consecrated on 4 September 1932 by Bishop Thorman. After the Second World War, the church was refurbished, including the substitution of tiles for the old flagstones, a new heating system and the dividing of the organ pipes on either side of the west window. After the Second Vatican Council a new moveable oak altar was installed. St Joseph’s Hall in Leadgate was opened in 1971. In 1991, the refurbishment of the church was completed. This included a new stone forward altar (with a timber arcade), the removal of the pulpit from the nave to the sanctuary and probably the removal of the brass altar rails.

The church is actually facing northeast. This description uses conventional liturgical orientation.

The exterior and interior of the church are described in the list description (see below). In addition, the following should be noted:

  • The sacristy is the original chapel of 1794-96, with a chancel of 1845.

  • The north face of the north porch has a small bellcote above the three lancets.

  • Both side chapels have timber altars with a reredos comprising painted panels on either side of a statue below a canopy. At the northeast, the side altar is dedicated to the Sacred Heart, with two painted saints on either side of a statue of the Sacred Heart. The Lady Altar at the southeast has two painted angels flanking a statue of the Virgin Mary. Both side chapels also have timber rails and tracery screens to the sanctuary.

  • In addition to the west window, there are pictorial stained glass windows in the sexfoils at the east ends of the aisles (the Annunciation at the northeast and the Flight into Egypt at the southeast) and fifteen saints in the apse windows.

  • Statues in the church include: Our Lady of the Rosary in the north aisle, St Patrick (by Mayer of Munich) in the south aisle, St Teresa and a pieta at the west end.

  • The pulpit was moved in 1991 from its original position at the northeast of the nave to the south side of the sanctuary. Its original pedestal now supports the statue of St Patrick.  Its carving resembles the timber arcade of the forward altar.

  • The octagonal cement font is at the southeast of the nave. Its stem is encased in timber due to deterioration of the cement.

  • There is a timber confessional in the south aisle.

  • The Stations are paintings in timber frames.

LIST DESCRIPTION: 

Roman Catholic parish church. 1866-9 by Edward Welby Pugin. Snecked sandstone with quoins and ashlar dressings; Welsh slate roof. Aisled nave with north porch; chancel. Decorated style. Boarded double doors with elaborate iron hinges, in chamfered and moulded 2-centred arch in east face of buttressed, gabled porch; 3 lancets under 6-foil light in north gable. Buttressed aisles have 5 large lancets in south; 4 in north and porch at west end; 6-foil lights in east ends of aisles. Massive west buttresses flank 5 small windows; large 6-foil light in west gable. Dripmoulds, most with block stops. Chancel with 3-sided apse has 5 groups of 3 cusped lancets. Steeply-pitched roofs, pent over aisles, with small cross gable over roundel in each eastern bay. Stone cross finials at west and on cross gables; small east gabled dormer and wrought iron cross finial. 

Interior: painted plaster with ashlar dressings and arcades; scissor-braced nave roof with struts to principals; all rafters on deeply-moulded corbels. Panelled chancel roof on marble shafts with C13-style capitals and angel corbels. Arcades, each east bay containing 2 narrow arches, have 2-centred moulded arches on alternate round and octagonal piers. Rere-arches to all windows. Wide segmental-arched west gallery. High quality Gothic-style Caen stone altar and reredos; wood pulpit and side altar in Gothic style. Most glass original, in simple geometric patterns; west window has pictorial glass, with Lamb in centre.

Heritage Details

Architect: Eighteenth-century architect not known; E. W. Pugin

Original Date: 1796

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: II