Building » Sheffield (Meadowhead) – Our Lady of Beauchief and St Thomas of Canterbury

Sheffield (Meadowhead) – Our Lady of Beauchief and St Thomas of Canterbury

Meadowhead, Sheffield, S8

A notable interwar designed by Adrian Gilbert Scott in Lombard Romanesque style and built on a Greek cross plan. The bluff exterior is low-key, the interior sophisticated in its handling of volume. The church has been reordered sympathetically and new artwork and furnishings of note added, but the church largely retains its original character. The slightly earlier presbytery was also designed by Scott. 

At the turn of the twentieth century the growing number of Catholics in the expanding southern suburbs around Woodseats were served by the church of St Wilfrid, some distance away. In 1908 Bishop Brindle of Nottingham agreed to a new church and paid for the acquisition of a suitable plot of land in Meadowhead. A temporary timber church was built at a cost of £400 to accommodate 250 people, and was opened by the priest-in-charge, the Rev. Henry Hunt on 16 June 1910. This building would later become the parish hall.

In 1918 the Rev. James Rooney instigated a building fund for a permanent church. It would be a further thirteen years before Bishop Dunn of Nottingham blessed the foundation stone, on 26 March 1931. The church was officially opened on 2 June 1932. Before this, a presbytery had been built in 1928. The architect for church and presbytery was Adrian Gilbert Scott and the builders Messrs M. J. Gleeson Ltd. The cost was £13,000. The dedication recalls the nearby Beauchief Abbey, the remains of which were presented to Sheffield Corporation in 1931.

In 1958 the woodblock flooring in the church was replaced with the present Terrazzo covering. The church was built without sacristies or an adequate staircase to the organ loft and a temporary altar was on loan from a church in Sheffield city centre. New sacristies and stairs to the organ loft were added in 1959-60 at a cost of £5,600. The architect was D. Wilkinson of John Rochford & Partners and the builders J. W. Anson & Sons.

Due to the drop in the land, access to the church involved a flight of twenty-four steps; a ramp was added in 1968. Three new parish rooms were built in September 1974, forming a link between the church, parish hall and parish rooms. The cost of this work was £42,000. Again, the architects were John Rochford & Partner. In 1985 a hall replaced the earlier timber building at the back of the site. In 2002/3 the church received a grant of £146,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the repair of the roof (architect Anthony Tranmer of John Rochford & Partners).


Canon Sweeney’s notes describe this as ‘an outstandingly successful adaptation to modern needs of the Byzantine style’. The list entry (below) more accurately describes the style as Lombard Romanesque. It is a relatively early design by Adrian Gilbert Scott, who had designed the school chapel at Spinkhill some eight years earlier. The church is built to a hybrid Greek/Latin cross plan, with the nave only slightly elongated. Its exterior character is understated, with a plain bluff frontage, while the interior demonstrates a deft and sophisticated handling of volume. The list entry describes the building in some detail, and repetition is unnecessary, but it barely describes the furnishings. The following can be mentioned:

  • Mosaics of the Ascension, Madonna and Child, and the Sacred Heart were designed by the refugee artist Georg Mayer-Marton (1897-1960) and carried out by his assistant Geoffrey Wheeler in 1960-62
  • Silver, wrought iron and copper work comes from the Benedictine Abbey of Maria Laach in Germany
  • The Stations of the Cross (1961) are by Imogen Stuart, a German-Irish artist
  • The processional cross is by Dunstan Pruden, of Eric Gill’s circle.

List description (church and presbytery)


Roman Catholic church and adjoining presbytery. 1931-32, by Adrian Gilbert Scott. Built by MJ Gleeson, Ltd. Sacristies 1959. Internal alterations 1968. Brick with ashlar dressings and hipped Roman tile roofs. Lombard Romanesque style. PLAN: chancel with apse and vestry, crossing tower, nave, transepts. EXTERIOR: chamfered eaves. Windows have mainly round arches. East end has hipped apse with 2 small windows. Below, flat-roofed sacristy and vestry. Chancel has on either side a round-arched 2-light window with ashlar shaft and transom, under a fanlight. Squat, square crossing tower has pyramidal roof with moulded wooden eaves and cross finial. On each side, 4 rectangular clerestory windows under the eaves. Nave has on either side a round-arched 2-light window with ashlar shaft and transom, under a fanlight. To west, on either side, a small window set low down. West end has 2 small windows set high, and central ashlar doorcase with cornice and framed panelled double doors. Outside, a landing with wrought-iron balustrade approached by steps on each side with balustrade wall and slab coping. Transepts have to east a hipped apse, and to west, a round-arched 2-light window with ashlar shaft and transom, under a fanlight. South transept has a door under the window. North and south ends have a round-arched 3-light window in the same style. In the return angles, to west, an angled extrusion with a single small window. Below, a half-hipped canted confessional with 2 small windows. Presbytery, to south of sacristy, has hipped roof and 2 large ridge stacks. Windows are mainly margin glazed steel framed casements. 2 storeys; 5 window range. Symmetrical front with late C20 addition to left. Rear has recessed centre flanked by hipped wings.

INTERIOR: has plain round-arched barrel vaults throughout, with mosaics, 1960-62, in each apse. Crossing has chamfered re-entrant angles with round arches carried on a round piers with Romanesque capitals. Panelled wooden ceiling with coffered square wooden dome. North-east angle has doorway to sacristy. South-east angle has foundation stone dated 1931, and aumbry and piscina with shaped wooden surrounds like the doors. Western angles have pairs of panelled doors, partly glazed, to confessionals. All these doors have wooden surrounds with shaped heads. North transept has to east a pair of doors, also with shaped heads. South transept has a door to west, under the window. Transept niches have stone altars. Nave has to west a panelled wooden gallery carried on a bressumer with shaped wooden brackets. On the gallery, a 2-tower organ case. Under the gallery, a framed panelled double door, partly glazed, with wooden surround and shaped head. To left, a round-arched doorway to the gallery stair. To right, a round-arched window to the former baptistry. Entrance hall has a window at each end, and a stoup. FITTINGS include plain octagonal font and late C20 altar and lectern. Plain benches with open backs.

(The Lord’s House (Catholic churches of the Diocese of Hallam): Evinson D: 1991-: 110-111). Listing NGR: SK3457682447

Heritage Details

Architect: Adrian Gilbert Scott

Original Date: 1932

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II