Building » Coundon – St Joseph

Coundon – St Joseph

Victoria Lane, Coundon, Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham DL14

A 1930s brick church with a traditional basilican plan. Although not of special architectural interest, it is has strong presence in its immediate area. It has a harmonious interior with some good marble work lining the sanctuary walls.

In the late nineteenth century the nearest place of Catholic worship was St Wilfrid’s, in Bishop Auckland (qv). The first development at Coundon was the building of a school in 1905-07 which also did duty as a hall and a church served from Bishop Auckland. The parish was erected in 1925 and a site for a church purchased in 1930. The foundation stone was laid on 10 December 1932 with the opening taking place on 25 January 1934. The church and presbytery cost £7,587. 400 people could be accommodated in the church. 


The church, under a Westmorland slate roof, has a traditional basilican plan with a long nave, short sanctuary and narrow north and south aisles (under flat roofs). There are chapels either side of the sanctuary but they are, unusually, separated from it by corridors which lead to the sacristy areas beyond. On the north side of the sanctuary there is a diminutive single bellcote. The church is faced with red bricks (red Tudor brick from Crossley’s of Middlesbrough). The windows are mostly single lights with flattened heads. McGowan notes that the design of the aisle windows was modified to accommodate the stained glass windows (which the first priest brought from a church in Barnard Castle). There is no clerestory.  The rainwater heads on the aisles have carved cherubs’ heads.

Inside the walls are plastered. The nave has five-and-a-half bays: the final bay before the sanctuary leads into transept-like spaces which have pairs of green terrazzo columns. The chapels lead off these spaces. The piers are rectangular (long in the east-west direction, formed of brick with sandstone dressings. These piers rise up to the wall plate of the keeled roof which is divided by transverse stone arches. Each bay of the roof has longitudinal boarding. Over the arcade arches are rows of blind traceried panels. The sanctuary is similarly covered but its two bays are plastered rather than boarded.

Fixtures and fittings:

  • The chancel is embellished by the use of marble. This work was done in 1948 when a marble sanctuary floor was also laid. The lower parts of the walls are lined with light pink and orange marbles: the grey marble behind the tabernacle was installed in 2011.
  • The stained glass windows are mostly Victorian work brought from a church in Bishop Auckland.
  • Font: of marble, 1954.
Heritage Details

Architect: Robert Burke of Newcastle upon Tyne

Original Date: 1934

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed