Dewley Court, Cramlington, Northumberland NE23
A modern building that fits in well with the surrounding new town estate it was built to serve. The interior is adequately furnished but is designed to serve large congregations with little subsidiary space, though has modern accessible facilities.
Cramlington was a New Township inaugurated in 1964 by a consortium of the county and district councils with two private house developers and aimed at creating new industries, as the last coal pit had closed in 1961. Both church and presbytery were designed by David Brown, architect of Newcastle, in 1969 and the lowest tender was for £66,786. It was opened and blessed by Bishop Lindsay on 27 July 1970 and on the following 15 November, the sculpture of the conversion of St Paul above the entrance was unveiled.
Before Fr Leche arrived in 2006, parishioners installed a café area and water-filled fishpond to the north side of the worship space. The pond is now dry and filled with stones and artificial plants. Alterations had also taken place in the sanctuary, removing the altar rails and replacing the original tall tabernacle.
The church entrance faces geographic east on to Dewley Court (a service road), but in this report liturgical compass points will be used i.e. with the altar on the east.
St Paul’s church was built of purple brick with a plastisol coated pitched profile steel roof. A large square plan, with narrow vertical wood framed windows and four triangular roof planes at two different levels that allow for top lighting; they culminate in a central stubby plain steel covered spirelet. The west entrance block stands forward and there is a curved single storey chapel off the northeast corner. It flanks a large flat-roofed single storey sacristy and link behind the east wall attaching the church to the presbytery (also of purple brick) on Dewley.
The protruding low entrance is surmounted by a large panel of various blue coloured mosaics with a central white plaster sculpture of the conversion of St Paul (artist not established). It is flanked each side by a single vertical strip of windows, now uPVC and with the lower panel replaced by red brick. The north and south facades have three such window strips placed centrally. The northeast link is of paler brick with eaves level windows.
The interior is very light as there are large windows between the planes of the roof and below the spirelet. The brickwork is exposed, with only the east wall plastered; it has been recently repainted a pale blue. There was a large wooden crucifix which has been replaced by a Risen Christ from Hayes and Finch. To the north is the single storey chapel with a memorial statue of St Paul and a book of remembrance. To the south are doors leading to the sacristies, day chapel and toilets in a flat-roofed area behind the sanctuary. Wooden statues of Our Lady and St Joseph stand in the southeast corner and west of them choir stalls and band equipment.
Above the west entrance (behind the blue mosaic wall) is a large gallery that extends into the main space, but now has sliding aluminium patio doors to a narrow balcony. Between the doors below is a baby room, which was originally where the service and hymn books etc. were stored in the built in cupboards and was probably not glazed in as now. The gallery stairs fill the southwest corner, confessionals the northwest. In front of this and filling the northwest corner of the main worship space is a kitchen and café area behind a tall timber screen. In the northeast corner is a baptistery (said to be in imitation of a river bank) created in 2006 but now a rockery as the open water with fish was considered a danger to children. The 1969 font stands near it; a glass bowl rests on a roughly shaped square block of stone standing on a circular marble dais.
The chamfered rectangular sanctuary is floored with pale grey mottled granolithic, the grey marble altar on three steps. The present tabernacle plinth is of a different grey marble, replacing the original taller block. Most of the original furniture survives, including the three seat presidential bench and the pews. The original Irish slate Stations of the Cross have been replaced by catalogue fibreglass pieces.
Architect: David Brown
Original Date: 1969
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Not Listed