Building » Kirk Sandall – St Thomas of Canterbury

Kirk Sandall – St Thomas of Canterbury

Eccleston Road, Kirk Sandall, Doncaster, DN3

An interwar church built on land donated by the Pilkington Glass Company, which established a glassworks and a garden village in Kirk Sandall. The church combines Romanesque, Gothic and Arts and Crafts/modern elements, and has striking internal concrete trusses.  

The Pilkington Glass Company was originally established in St Helens in 1826 and by 1919 was expanding its operation, acquiring land in Kirk Sandall in 1919. Here they built a garden village to provide workers’ accommodation. At first the Catholic community attended Mass in a workmen’s hut on the glassworks site, served by priests from St Peter-in-Chains, Doncaster. Soon afterwards Pilkington donated land for a permanent church. The church of St Thomas of Canterbury was designed by Godfrey L. Clarke FRIBA of Empsall, Clarkson & Clarke as a chapel-of-ease to Rossington (also designed by Clarke for the Rev T. Bentley) and was opened by Mgr Canon Hawkswell, Vicar General of the Diocese of Leeds, in July 1930. The Tablet illustrated the building and described it as follows:

“From an architectural point of view, Kirk Sandall church […] presents new features. The actual plan is simple, consisting of a wide nave, with transepts, one of which is utilized for a sacristy and Confessionals, the other forming the Lady Chapel. The Sanctuary, in the form of an apse, is well lighted and is raised above the level of the nave floor. The chief feature of the church lies in its construction. The architect, Mr. Godfrey L. Clarke, F.R.I.B.A., has dispensed with the usual wooden roof beams, and in their place has introduced reinforced concrete roof trusses, which have their foundations in the ground and follow the line of the building to the apex of the roof. Economy has been effected by the circumstance that the architect has been able to keep the side walls low and to do away with the necessity for buttresses. Considering that the building throughout is of thoroughly sound construction, the low cost, £8 12s. per head, will be appreciated. The church is designed to accommodate a congregation of two hundred.”

The parish of St Thomas of Canterbury (Armthorpe and Kirk Sandall) was erected in 1935. The church was dedicated on 1 June 1980. Today it is a chapel-of-ease to Armthorpe (qv).


The church was built in 1930, and its design incorporates Romanesque, Gothic and Arts and Crafts/modern elements. It is faced in red brick laid in English garden wall bond and has a steeply pitched roof covered in clay tiles. The cruciform plan consists of a wide nave with transepts, apsidal chancel, side chapel and sacristy.

The principal entrance is via a gabled porch the south side, with a round-arched doorway. The fenestration to the north side consists of three sets of triple windows with round-arched heads and two sets to the south. The north side has a gabled projection forming the side chapel and to the south a sacristy forming a link block with the presbytery. The west end gable has a stepped triple lancet window and a simple bellcote at the gable apex. The east end is formed of a semi-circular apse with two pairs of round-headed windows.

Internally, the dominant feature is the reinforced concrete trusses marking the bay divisions of the aisleless nave. Between these the walls are plastered and painted, with timber rafters and purlins to the boarded roof.  The east end wall is of exposed brown rustic brick laid in English garden wall bond, with a large two-centred arch of Arts and Crafts character to the canted sanctuary. To the left, the Lady Chapel is accessed through a brick archway and to the right there is a sacristy and confessional. There are no furnishings of particular note. The forward altar is modern, of pine, while the pews are probably contemporary with the church. Stations of the Cross in high relief are placed on the nave walls.

Heritage Details

Architect: Empsall, Clarkson & Clarke

Original Date: 1930

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed