Building » Crawcrook – St Agnes

Crawcrook – St Agnes

Main Street, Westburn, Crawcrook, Tyne and Wear NE40

A 1950s brick church in the modern Romanesque manner, with an Italianate tower. The church occupies a prominent site, on land acquired from the Dunn family.

In 1886 A. M. Dunn, of the architects Dunn & Hansom, whose family home was at Castle Hill, Crawbrook, gave land for a Catholic school. This was probably built from designs by Dunn; a small chapel was added in 1892. The first resident priest was also installed in 1892 and a presbytery built six years later. 

In 1905 a temporary corrugated iron church was built, at a cost of £1000. Fundraising for a permanent church started under Dr Wheatley, appointed parish priest in 1935, but this was delayed by the onset of war. The present church and presbytery were finally built by Fr Aherne in 1959, on a new site acquired from Commander Dunn, the grandson of A. M. Dunn.  The church, seating 375, was built in a modern Romanesque style, with an Italianate tower, from designs by Pascal J. Stienlet & Son; the contractor was J. W. Lowry of Newcastle. The cost of the church (including fittings) and presbytery was £60,000. 

The church was re-ordered in 1976 by Alan Greenall of Wylam, an architect and parishioner. At this time the altar rails and the canopy over the altar were removed and the altar brought forward into the nave.  Two side altars and the organ in the west gallery were also removed. New liturgical furnishings were made using the old marble.


The church is in modern Romanesque style.  The plan is traditional with an aisled nave and sanctuary under a continuous ridged roof, a southwest tower and sacristies linking the church with the presbytery. The exterior walls have grey mixed  facing bricks laid in Flemish bond with dressings of artificial stone; the roof coverings are dark antique pantiles. The west end has a central doorway with a tall round-headed window over; the door is flanked by small single windows.  The square southwest tower is set back slightly from the west front and has a tall Italianate bell stage with paired windows on all sides and a pyramidal tiled roof.  The side aisles are low, with pent roofs and small single windows.  The nave clerestory above is divided into bays by strip pilasters with triple round-headed windows in each bay.  The single bay sanctuary has one window on each side.

Inside, the walls are of bare-faced grey brick with low round arches to the side aisles.  All the windows are clear-glazed.  The roof has timber framed box beams instead of conventional trusses, which increases the apparent height. At the west end of the nave the original choir gallery has been enlarged to provide space for a small meeting room beneath. The sanctuary is the same width as the nave and is raised four steps above it.  A wide semi-circular arch to the rear of the sanctuary forms the setting for the simple marble high altar, with a crucifix on the plain wall above it.  The sanctuary arrangements belong to a post-Vatican II reordering, in which the original marble fittings were re-used in part. 

Heritage Details

Architect: Pascal J. Stienlet & Son of Newcastle

Original Date: 1959

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed