Building » Doncaster – St Peter-in-Chains

Doncaster – St Peter-in-Chains

Chequer Road, Doncaster, DN1 2AA

A large and striking design by J. H. Langtry-Langton, incorporating important furnishings by J. F. Bentley from the predecessor church, along with good furnishings of the 1970s. The churches houses the modern successor to the medieval shrine of Our Lady of Doncaster.

There was a Carmelite priory at Doncaster from 1346, which housed a shrine to Our Lady of Doncaster, destroyed at the time of dissolution in 1539.

Soon after the 1829 Catholic Emancipation Act, in 1833, a mission was founded on a plot of land in Princes Street, bought for £400. Here, a schoolroom and house were adapted to serve as a chapel in 1835, on the initiative of the Rev. John Furniss. This soon proved too small and the Rev. Edward Pearson commissioned a new Gothic Revival church from M.E. Hadfield, opening in 1867. A new shrine to Our Lady of Doncaster was established in 1868, after Theodore Phyffers of London was commissioned to produce a new statue. Other furnishings were designed by the Doncaster-born J. F. Bentley, a friend of Hadfield and best known as the architect for Westminster Cathedral. These included the tabernacle, high altar, reredos, font and communion rails. The church was consecrated by Bishop Wheeler of Leeds in its centenary year, on 1 August 1967.

A school opened in 1872 on Portland Place, run by the Sisters of Mercy from 1887.  St Peter’s served a very large parish until the opening of colliery communities necessitated the creation of separate missions and, later, parishes.

The Sisters of Mercy opened the Catherine McAuley Upper School in 1971, designed by the Bradford architect J. H. Langtry-Langton. Canon Thomas Abberton led the initiative for a parish complex of church, hall and presbytery on a large new site south of the town centre, also designed by Langtry-Langton. The church was built in 1972-3, incorporating some fittings from the old church, such as the Bentley high altar and reredos, re-used in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. The contractors were J. Dixon of Doncaster. A Pontifical Mass was celebrated and the new church blessed by Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, on 15 April 1973. The church was consecrated by Bishop Moverley of Hallam on 29 June 1988.


A large town centre church built in 1973 to designs by J. H. Langtry-Langton of Bradford. The building is faced in buff brick laid in stretcher bond, with flat roofs to side elements, and concrete Roman roof tiles and a fibreglass crown to the central octagon.  The overall plan is hexagonal, formed by two interlocking squares, with the east sanctuary and west narthex in opposing angles, apsidal side chapels to the east sides of the squares and an octagonal central dome rising above the nave. The entrance elevation faces west, with a projecting three-bay classical porch of round arches on square piers and a flat roof, flanked by large raking buttresses. Above the porch rises the west side of the octagon, with five narrow windows above a crucifix. The southwest and northwest elevations of the nave have projecting full-height triangular bays with narrow windows and buttresses. The northeast Lady Chapel is expressed externally as a glazed apse, with grey concrete radial fins on a brick plinth. The northwest Blessed Sacrament Chapel is half-octagonal, with radial buttresses and single narrow windows to alternate faces. The sanctuary is expressed by a pair of narrow buttresses rising above the eaves and flanked by large raking buttresses. Clerestory windows are arranged around the octagon, five to each face except for the sanctuary, which is lit by two pairs of windows.

The striking, spacious interior is dominated by the octagonal raised ceiling and clerestory, with the raised sanctuary to the east. The open nave has seating arranged in two large square blocks set at right angles, with square reinforced concrete columns carrying the roof. The walls are plain plastered, the flat ceiling lined with acoustic tiles and the floor covered with linoleum tiles and carpet. The west gallery houses the organ (relocated from the old church) with two concrete staircases rising out of the nave. The pews, stair balustrade and door joinery are of hardwood. The sanctuary is simply fitted with a stone forward altar, low-relief reredos of Calvary and a wooden statue of the risen Christ. The Blessed Sacrament Chapel is richly fitted with furnishings and fittings designed by J .F. Bentley for the 1860s church, including a Caen stone and alabaster altar (1867) with painting by Westlake to the front, enamelled tabernacle (1867), Caen stone reredos with traceried alabaster panels between opus sectile panels with figures of Abel, Noah, Melchisedech and Abraham (1883) and re-set stained glass. The Lady Chapel, the shrine of Our Lady of Doncaster, contains a statue by Theodore Phyffers (1867), figurative stained glass by Patrick Feeny for Hardman (1973) and abstract glass fitted in 2000 as part of reordering and revival of the shrine. A Gothic Revival stone font and eagle lectern in the nave are from an Anglican church in Scunthorpe.

Heritage Details

Architect: J.H. Langtry-Langton & Son

Original Date: 1973

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed