Durham Street, Hartlepool, Cleveland TS24
A good Early English Gothic design by J. A. Hansom, with a fine interior retaining original and early fittings of note. The church is also an important element of the historic Headland, a designated conservation area, and lies close to the early medieval church of St Hilda. The site is of archaeological sensitivity.
The mission was founded in 1834 when a chapel on the corner of Prissick Street and Henry Street was built, by John Wells. The first resident priest was Fr William Knight, from Ushaw, who built a school in 1837. Due to the success of the docks, Hartlepool’s population doubled between 1840 and 1850, with an influx of Irish workers. Fr Knight initiated fundraising for a new church, led by a Mr Lawrenson. The new church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, was opened by Bishop Hogarth on 28 August 1851. The builders were John Galley and the total cost, including the site, was £4000, raised largely by subscriptions. A school, St Bega’s, was built in 1884. St Mary’s was the mother church of Hartlepool, but as the town expanded in the twentieth century, the population of the historic Headland area declined. The spire was demolished in 1946, due to its poor condition.
The list description (below) refers to most of the church’s key features. In addition, the baptistery in the west end of the south aisle retains its polychrome Gothic font on clustered columns with a finely carved traceried timber cover. The benches are plain pine with a wood-grained finish. The floor at the west end of the nave and below the gallery is laid with Minton tiles, and the west entrance is separated from the nave by a pine screen and doors with glazing, probably 1880s. The sanctuary was re-ordered in the late 1980s, since the list entry was written; the alabaster altar rails and brass gates have been removed but they survive to the side chapel. The pipe organ on the west gallery has a Gothic-style timber case; the organ made by W. Denman of York. The sacristy formerly occupied a stone gabled structure to the north side of the sanctuary; since c.2000 this is been used as a parish meeting room, and a former confessional has been adapted for use as a small sacristy.
Wrongly shown on O.S. plan as Brougham Street. Roman Catholic Church, 1850, by J.A. Hansom (Preston). Dressed limestone with quoins at angles; Welsh slate roof with terracotta ridge crestings. Early English style. Disoriented, terms used are ritual. Aisled, clearstoried nave, bowed apsidal chancel, north and north-east vestries, south chapel, and west tower from which spire was removed c. 1945. Crypt below chancel now used as chapel. 4-stage tower has clasping buttresses, straight parapet, corbelled out, and vice at north-east angle. Pointed west doorway of 3 moulded orders, the middle order having nook shafts and the inner being trefoil-headed. Figure of Virgin in trefoil-headed gabled niche in west face of 2nd stage; lancets with nook shafts and hoodmoulds, to north and south faces of 2nd stage and in pairs to each face of top stage. Each face of 3rd stage has a cinquefoil. 6-bay nave has paired, chamfered, trefoil headed clearstorey windows. Single lancets, with hoodmoulds and carved stops to aisles and apse.
Church interior is painted. Chamfered arcade arches on alternate round and octagonal piers. Coupled-rafter roof with 2 collar beams, wall posts, arched braces and curved angle struts to lower beam. West gallery of 1886. Stained glass to aisle and apse windows by Francis Barnett (York) 1851. Painted stone sedilia with cinquefoil head. Heavily carved and ornamented marble altar with predella, tabernacle and arcaded antependium. Alabaster communion rails and brass gates. Tessellated pavement to centre aisle.
Architect: J. A. Hansom
Original Date: 1850
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II