Worswick Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1
A stone-built Gothic town church and presbytery, built in the 1870s from designs by Thomas Gibson. The church was a successor to the chapel built in the 1790s by Fr James Worswick, the leading figure in the modern development of the Newcastle Catholic mission.
Apart from makeshift arrangements in existing buildings, Newcastle’s first post-Reformation Catholic church was built in 1798, in the large garden behind Fr James Worswick’s house in Pilgrim Street. The growing Catholic population required enlargement of this building in 1830, increasing the capacity to 1000.
The mission was served by the Dominican order from 1860 until 1873, soon after which both house and church were demolished to make way for a new police station and a new street (named Worswick Street) connecting Pilgrim Street with the Manors. The sarcophagus altar from the 1798 church is now in St Dominic’s Church, New Bridge Street (qv). Fr Worswick (1771-1843) was the effective founder of the Newcastle mission, and a City Council plaque recording his work in the city is fixed to the outside of the present church.
The present church was opened on 26 September 1875. There is some confusion about the identity of the architect. The list description gives E. W. Pugin as architect of both church and presbytery, but this is an error. Pugin had no involvement, although he did design the presbytery at St Mary’s Cathedral. Morris and Gooch (p.189) credit the design to T.G. Leadbitter, following the anonymous author of the 1975 centenary publication. However, no source is given for this attribution, and the plans for the church (1874) and presbytery (1872) in Tyne and Wear Archives (references above) are signed by Thomas Gibson. There is a Thomas Gibson listed at 33 Pilgrim St, Newcastle in the Architects’ Engineers’ & Building Trades’ Directory of 1868.
The link between the church and the presbytery was enlarged at the end of the nineteenth century, from designs by Dunn, Hansom & Fenwick (plans dated 24 August 1897 in Tyne and Wear Archives). In recent years a canopy has been built in front of this.
The church was consecrated by Bishop Collins on 27 September 1921.
The church was reordered in 1993-94 by Vincente Stienlet, when the octagonal pulpit was dismantled and made into a forward altar.
In 2012 a twentieth century glazed screen at the west end was removed and replaced with a new glazed screen set forward of the old one.
See list entry, below. This contains significant errors of attribution and dating. The church and presbytery are incorrectly attributed to E. W. Pugin (who did indeed design a presbytery in the city, but it was at the cathedral and not here). The church is dated c1880 in the list entry rather than 1874-75, and the presbytery incorrectly dated 1865 (Gibson’s drawings date from 1872). The church was reordered in 1993-94 by Vincente Stienlet.
Mention might also be made of the late nineteenth century link between church and presbytery, added by Dunn, Hansom & Fenwick, and the more recent alterations, described above.
Parish church built c.1880 and attached presbytery built 1865 to designs Edward Welby Pugin. Stone with ashlar dressings and slate roofs. Presbytery has rock-faced plinth with chamfered ashlar band. Hipped roof with 2 moulded ashlar ridge stacks and bracketed eaves. 2 storey. Street front has 3 windows with central tall staircase window in pointed arched surround with hood mould and y-tracery. Either side single triple plain sashes each with a moulded segment arched head. Above moulded band with carved stops, and above single similar triple windows on either side. To left a passage doorway with chamfered pointed arched surround. Right return has similar single and 2-light windows. Set back entrance facade has doorway to left reached up 6 steps with plank door with ornate iron hinges and overlight, to right two 2-light cross casement windows with leaded lattice glazing and stained glass panels. Above three similar 2-light cross casements. INTERIOR retains original wooden staircase with 2 turned balusters per tread and moulded handrail, original marble fireplaces on ground floor, original doors, shutters, plaster coving and skirting boards. Church has rock-faced stone work with ashlar dressings, moulded eaves band and ashlar coped gables with kneelers. Continuous moulded cill band. Chamfered plinth. Nave with north aisle and octagonal ended chancel. West front has glazed iron canopy over entrance. Central pointed arched doorway in deeply moulded surround with hood mould. Above large rose window with 6 outer quatrefoils. In gable apex 3 graduated lancets. South, street front has 6 tall 3-light pointed arched windows with different tracery to each window and between single tall buttresses. Octagonal ended chancel has single 2-1ight pointed arch windows with different tracery to each face with tall buttresses between. Small gabled vestry to north has single pointed arched window with 3 graduated lancets.
INTERIOR has 5 bay north nave arcade with octagonal piers and double chamfered arches. Elaborate wooden roof. West galley with organ supported on 2 tall iron columns and an inserted glazed screen. Contemporary wooden pews and octagonal pulpit. These two contrasting buildings form an integral unit, though the presbytery, by the important Victorian architect Edward Welby Pugin, is of a higher architectural quality than the later, but also impressive, parish church.
Architect: Thomas Gibson
Original Date: 1875
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II