Building » Carlisle – Our Lady and St Joseph

Carlisle – Our Lady and St Joseph

Warwick Square, Carlisle CA1 1LB

A handsome late nineteenth century red sandstone church in Perpendicular Gothic style by Dunn, Hansom & Dunn of Newcastle. It forms a good group with the presbytery (by the same architects), and makes a positive contribution to the conservation area.

Carlisle got its first Catholic church since the Reformation in 1798. According to Rafferty (1997), the Fairburn family, who owned the Bush Hotel in English Street, established a chapel by converting a small building on the West Walls. With little money to support a priest, the church here faltered until Joseph Marshall was sent to establish a mission in the town in 1800. Rafferty (1997) writes that despite financial hardship, Marshall stayed. He quotes from Marshall’s papers: “From the year 1800 to the year 1806 what I received at Carlisle was not worth keeping an account of.”

With a growing Catholic population in the town, appeals for a new church were made from the 1820s. This was built in Chapel Street, a short distance west of Warwick Square, in 1824-5.  However, by 1879 a new and larger church was being planned for Warwick Square, on land belonging to the Duke of Devonshire. This was erected between 1891-3, at a cost of £12,000. Rafferty (1997) writes:

‘The exterior of the new church, opened in 1893, is much the same today as on the day it was first used, but a limited number of present-day parishioners will remember the interior of the church as it was before alterations were made to it.’

The presbytery was built at the same time as the church, apparently using the funds of the parish priest, Canon Waterton. The old presbytery, by the Chapel Street church, was demolished ten years after the new church was built and replaced with a new building for St Patrick’s school.

List description


Roman Catholic church. 1891-3 by Dunn, Hansom and Dunn of Newcastle. Red sandstone ashlar on chamfered plinth, with stepped buttresses, string courses and eaves cornice. Graduated greenslate roofs with coped gables and cross finials; decorative ridge tiles. West 3-storey tower; 8-bay nave/chancel under common roof, with aisles and contemporary south porch; in Perpendicular style. Tower has west double doors in pointed arch within a cusped and pedimented porch with Statue of Our Lady; left angle turret projects and rises above battlemented parapet; small 2- and 3-light traceried window; belfry has pierced quatrefoil panels with cusped heads under flat arches. Aisles have traceried 3-light cusped-headed windows under flat arches; the north aisle has broad and narrow interval buttresses. 2-light cusped-headed clerestory windows under flat arches. East window of flowing tracery is based on the Bishop’s Eye at Lincoln. INTERIOR: screened baptistry with organ gallery projecting from the tower arch above. 7-bay aisles have grouped and octagonal columns under pointed moulded arches. Open timber vaulted roof with carved angel corbels. Open late C19 pine benches. Late C19 and early C20 unsigned figurative stained glass in some windows. Chancel has carved wooden figure in elaborately figured carved surround under canopy, against east wall.

HISTORY: An earlier design for a church on this site by the same architects, dated 1877, was published (see Carlisle Library Collection). Plans for the church are in Cumbria County Record Office, Ca/E1/339 and Ca/E4/2432. The foundation stone was laid on 18 May 1891, on land belonging to the Duke of Devonshire. It cost £10,000 and opened in 1893. The Presbytery of red brick adjoining the church is of the same date and architect (not included).

Heritage Details

Architect: Dunn, Hansom & Dunn

Original Date: 1891

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II