Building » Hartlepool – St Joseph

Hartlepool – St Joseph

St Paul’s Road, Hartlepool TS26 9EY

A large red brick late nineteenth-century Gothic Revival town church, designed by a well-regarded North East firm. The fine interior retains some good late Victorian and early twentieth century fittings, and its significance has not been harmed by reordering. Although the projected tower was never built, the church has a strong presence in the street scene.

Papist Returns of 1767 indicate the presence of about twenty five Catholics in the parish of Hart and about sixteen in Hartlepool. The nearest Mass centre was Hardwick Hall, home of the Maire family, until the establishment of the mission at Hutton Henry (qv) in 1825. The first Catholic church in Hartlepool was built on The Headland, on Prissick Street in 1834. Growth in the Catholic population led to this being replaced as early as 1851, by St Mary’s church.

The later growth of the town was focused on West Hartlepool, which grew rapidly from the mid 1nineteenth century due to the success of the docks; St Joseph’s mission was founded from St Mary’s in 1867, and Fr Robert Suffield placed in charge of it. Plans for a church were prepared by A. M. Dunn but the site chosen was considered to be too far from the town centre, and the project was abandoned. In the meantime, Mass was said in the Central Hall on Church Street, with a school in a room over a warehouse on Princess Street. These premises soon provide inadequate and in 1873 a new school opened on Whitby Street. Worship took place in a variety of premises including the school and an old skating rink, before funds could be raised for a new church.

The foundation stone for the present church of St Joseph, designed by Dunn, Hansom & Fenwick, was laid on 9 August 1893 and the church was opened on 5 February 1895. It was designed to seat 1000 and cost £13,000. The projected southeast tower was not built due to the cost, although its foundations were laid.

Additions by Canon Lacey (parish priest 1962-80) included a northwest porch (1966), presbytery (1976) and Parish Centre (1979). He also instigated the reordering of the sanctuary (completed in 1980 from designs by C. J. Rainford), with new sacristies. More recently new facilities have been provided in another parish hall, attached to the church. 


The list description (below) refers to most aspects of the church, but some additional features are worthy of mention.  The sanctuary is roughly to the west, and in this description, liturgical compass points will be used. 

  • The high altar and marble reredos were installed in 1935 in memory of Canon Wickwar, to designs by Alphege Pippet of Camden, made by Boulton of Birmingham with stained glass by Hardman. The floor is laid with mosaic, partly covered with carpet, with pine boards below the nave pine pews
  • Windows of St Philip Neri and St Gilbert of Sempringham in the aisle are by Arthur A. Orr
  • Most of the joinery, including panelled confessional doors to the south aisle is pine
  • The oak Stations of the Cross were a gift of the Greensitt family, 1900
  • There is a brass 1914-18 war memorial in the north porch
  • The organ loft above the Sacred Heart chapel has a Gothic-style oak case.

List description


Roman Catholic church, 1893-95, by E.J. Hansom (Newcastle), with mid C20 porch. Brick with red sandstone dressings and Westmorland slate roofs. Disoriented, terms used are ritual. Clearstoried and aisled nave, apsed chancel, north and south transept chapels, sacristies in south-east angle of south transept; and north-west porch. Nave of 6 bays defined by buttresses, has clearstorey windows in 2-centred arches and paired trefoil-headed lancets to north aisle. Decorated-style traceries to nave and 2-bay chancel. West doorway of 4 roll-moulded orders and granite shafts with leafy capitals under water-leaf moulded hoodmould. Gargoyles above pilasters rising from buttresses between windows of decagonal sanctuary apse. Similar gargoyles to west gable; all by Milburn (York).

Nave arcades have compound piers and figures of angels to spandrels, by Bolton & Sons (Cheltenham); round wall-shafts rise above to foliate capitals carrying wall-posts of hammerbeam roof having carved figures to hammerbeam ends. Roof is ceiled with timber boarding in chancel apse, where wall-posts rise from angel corbels. South aisle has blank arcading. Middle 3 windows of apse have good stained glass of Bible scenes by Glossley, Atkinson & Co.; other 4 windows are plain; carved stone figures to spandrels. Vitreous mosaic to aisle floors. Marble mosaic chancel floor. Marble reredos to 3 faces of apse, incorporating 4 figures of Virgin and saints in turreted niches; central niche containing Crucifix flanked by mosaic panels. Altar with marble and alabaster sides and grey granite mensa. Marble and alabaster side rails. Each chapel has altar and reredos of Marble and alabaster, with figures and rails. Circular marble font on 4 compound shafts with foliate alabaster capitals and moulded octagonal plinth. Ornamental sanctuary lamp in brass and iron, suspended from iron bracket.

Heritage Details

Architect: Dunn, Hansom & Fenwick

Original Date: 1895

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II