Building » Newton Abbot – St Joseph

Newton Abbot – St Joseph

Queen Street, Newton Abbot, Devon

A large town church built in 1915 by the prolific firm of Scoles and Raymond, in their favoured (and by then decidedly old-fashioned) thirteenth century Gothic style. The church replaced, and possibly incorporates part of, a church built in 1870, from which time the adjoining presbytery may date. The chancel was never built, giving the liturgical east end a plain external and a truncated internal appearance. There was a major reordering in 1980.  

In the early 1860s Catholics in Newton Abbott worshipped in a chapel belonging to an order of Augustinian nuns and in 1867 were using a temporary chapel in a rented house in Higher St Paul’s Road. In 1868 the Earl of Devon sold a plot of ground to the parish and a new church was erected on the site, which was opened in June 1870. It was apparently replaced by the present building in 1915, though on stylistic grounds the greater part of the presbytery appears to be contemporary with the original church and it may be that some of the fabric of the present church also belongs to the 1870s.

A major reordering costing £42,000 was carried out in 1980 under the direction of Michael Hattrell Associates of London SW11. The screens, altar rails and some steps were removed and a new altar, tabernacle, font and ambo introduced. A suspended crown of lights was hung over the new altar, and a tabernacle shrine with figures of St Joseph and the Virgin and Child was made by David John, who also regrouped the Stations of the Cross, crucifix, candle and aumbry. The seating was turned inwards by 15 degrees.


See list description below. The building was evidently listed on the basis of its external merits, without an internal inspection.

The rear (‘east’) end wall is of red brick and it seems likely that a chancel was originally intended. This is borne out by the interior where the nave ends abruptly at a tall featureless east wall.  The nave has four bay arcades of double-chamfered pointed arches carried on octagonal stone columns with moulded capitals and bases. The walls are plain plastered. The windows are all clear-glazed. The aisles have sloping boarded ceilings, the nave has a five-sided boarded ceiling. There is a timber western gallery with a panelled front, which may be a later insertion. Against the blank east wall has been formed a broad sanctuary step with a modern altar, timber corona and other fittings, reordered in 1980 and described above.

List description (church and presbytery)


Roman Catholic Church. 1915. By Scoles and Raymond. MATERIALS: polygonal coursedDevonlimestone rubble with ashlar dressings, steeply-pitched slate roof. STYLE: Gothic Revival. PLAN: aisled. EXTERIOR: tall gabled north, street, facade to the church has tall flanking octagonal turrets with gabled and panelled facets to tops; stone cross to the apex and a triple niche with a statue to the centre over a 6-cusped circular window. 5 equal trefoil-headed lancets rest on a sill band above double planked doors and a gold mosaic tympanum to a moulded pointed arch with colonettes. A hoodmould to the arch continues over similar 2-light windows flanking the door. The sill band continues below parapets to castellated single-storey canted wings to each side which have continuous hoodmoulds over a trefoil-headed window to each facet of the left-hand wing and a 2-light Decorated style window to the front of the right-hand wing.

PRESBYTERY to left has an external stack to the left gable end and a left-of-centre ridge stack. Double-depth plan. 2 storeys; 3-window range. Moulded kneelers coping of gable ends, a central forward-facing gable and a small half dormer to the left. Horizontal glazing bars to 2/2-pane sash windows, those to the first floor with shallow pointed arches, those to the ground floor with shouldered arches. Windows to the central gable and ground-floor left are under relieving arches. The range to the left attached to the church is C20 with flat arches to paired windows and a C20 door to the right of the central gable.

INTERIOR: not inspected but reported as having plain fittings and Perpendicular-style arcades. A remarkably conservative example of a church in this almost pre-Ecclesiological style.

(BoE: Pevsner N & Cherry B: Devon: London: 1989-: 587).

Listing NGR: SX8639871334

Heritage Details

Architect: Scoles & Raymond

Original Date: 1871

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II