Building » Otterburn – St Peter

Otterburn – St Peter

Otterburn, Northumberland NE19

On a domestic scale and appearance, with an interior dominated by the salvaged roof timbers, St Peter’s is a well maintained church adequate for its small congregation but of limited architectural or historic significance.

Bellingham is said to be the largest parish geographically in the diocese, and many Catholics have to travel great distances to church. In 1934 Fr Murphy started a Mass Centre at Monkridge Farm just outside Otterburn (eleven miles from Bellingham) and then in a granary at Townend Farm, where Mass was said until St Peter’s was built in 1953.Its dedication is in thanksgiving for the pilgrimage the then parish priest Fr Delaney had made to Rome. The land was sold to Fr Delaney by Sir Archibald White for £80 and Thomas Muckle, a builder from Rothbury built the church and attached caretaker’s house for £6000. It was opened and blessed by Bishop McCormack in June 1953.

In 1979/80 Fr Costello reordered the interior and the church was consecrated by Bishop Lindsay on 20 May 1980. Fr Robson (1996-2008) had the ceiling mounted heating installed and the interior carpeted.

The church continues to be served by the priest at Bellingham.


The church lies at right angles to the street and so runs north-south. For the purposes of this report, conventional liturgical orientation is used with the altar at the east, though being at geographical south.

St Peter’s church was built of rendered brick with stone dressings and a graduated Westmorland slate roof in 1953 by Thomas Muckle, a builder from Rothbury. It is not known if an architect was involved. It is rectangular in plan, with a shallow recessed sanctuary and small southwest porch. A sacristy at the northeast corner connects to the caretaker’s house (it was not intended to be a presbytery).

Inclined stone faced buttresses divide the nave into three bays, each with a pair of triangular-headed timber windows set into stone-dressed frames. The roof is quite steep, reportedly salvaged from a school in Gateshead, resulting in a large west wall whose scale is emphasised by the pair of small windows in the gable. Entry is by a partially glazed domestic southwest door.

Internally, the three timber trusses of the salvaged roof are quite dominant; strutted kingposts rise from a substantial collar beam with two purlins; the feet of the common rafters are buried in the plastered wall. All the fittings were made by the woodwork teacher at Bellingham Middle School, Mr Wrangham c.1953-4. The stone altar was made by Thomas Muckle and moved away from the east wall in 1980.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1953

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed