Skipwith Gardens, Rossington, Doncaster, DN11
An interwar design of presence and individuality, occupying a prominent position within the model village of New Rossington.
New Rossington colliery was opened in 1912, attracting Catholic working families to the area. New Rossington was built as a model village soon afterwards. Catholics travelled to St Peter-in-Chains in Doncaster until a mission was established in Rossington, with Mass initially said in homes, the Co-op Hall and Welfare Hall until a weekly Mass was established in the school. The Catholic community expanded during the 1920s, and a new church was planned by Fr Bentley of St Peter’s. A foundation stone was laid in 1923 but the church did not open until 31 July 1929, in a ceremony conducted by Bishop Cowgill of Leeds. The cost was £3,256. The architect was Godfrey L. Clarke of Empsall, Clarkson & Clarke of Bradford, and the church is a smaller and more modest version of his contemporary design at Hoyland (qv), without a tower. Nevertheless, The Tablet reported in 1931 that the church at Rossington ‘owes nothing to any hide-bound tradition, yet breathes that subtle air of refinement and good breeding which should stamp a building no less than a man’.
Furnishings were donated by parishioners, including by a lady known as ‘Fish Maggie’, who sold fish from a barrow and raised the funds for the sanctuary carpet. A statue of St Teresa was paid for from betting winnings on a horse called Little Flower. Soon after the opening, a structural defect caused the aisle to collapse. In circa 1930, a presbytery was built for Fr Flynn, who became parish priest when the parish was founded in 1931. A wooden parish hall was built in the late 1930s, completed after 1938 by Fr McMullen – it burnt down in 1961. A new hall, known as the Rosary Hall, was built by John Rochford & Partner in 1965, at a cost of £9,000. The White Fathers used Rossington Hall as a centre for training missionaries from 1938 to 1947. St Joseph’s school was built in 1973. The parish served RAF Finningley, where Mass was said by the parish priest from Rossington, until a chaplain was appointed in 1972.
In the church, a pulpit, baldacchino and reredos were installed by Fr Ryan (parish priest 1957-62). These do not survive. A reordering with temporary forward altar took place under Fr Nicholas Kennedy in 1977. New and more permanent sanctuary fittings were provided in 1979 by John Rochford & Partner under Fr Terence Boyle, including a stone altar, ambo, tabernacle plinth, Lady Chapel, confessional and arched reredos. The church was dedicated at this time, on 6 June 1979.
In 1990 a garage between the church and presbytery was taken down and a meeting room and sacristy, with WCs and disabled access ramp, was built on the site and linked to the church.
The character of the area changed when the colliery closed in 2007.
All orientations given are liturgical. The church was built in 1929 from designs by Godfrey L. Clarke of Empsall, Clarkson & Clarke of Bradford, and is built of reddish brown brick in English garden wall bond. The style is modern Romanesque, with use of brickwork decoration to provide texture and architectural definition. There are round-arched aisle windows and triplets of round-arched clerestory windows. Architectural elaboration is concentrated on the west end facing the street. There is a distinctive projecting centrepiece with a central round-arched doorway, a cross motif picked out in contrasting brick, brickwork dentil eaves and a gable acting as a bellcote. A stone plaque near the base records the laying of the foundation stone by the Bishop of Leeds in 1923. There are north and south aisles, both with large brick buttresses, that to the south side with confessionals at the west end. The chancel is not expressed structurally. A meeting room and sacristy of 1990 are attached at the east end.
Inside, the walls are plastered and there are round-arched arcades of exposed brick. The timber arch-braced kingpost roof has principals rising from brick corbels. There is a very broad round-arched chancel arch with a tall blind arch of exposed brick in the east wall framing the altar. A circular window in the apex of the gable has stained glass showing a dove. A Lady Chapel at the east end of the south aisle has timber furnishings, including a plinth and rails which may consist of reused earlier chancel furnishings. The octagonal stone font, of traditional design, is now in this area. The sanctuary furnishings consist of simple late-twentieth century altar and lectern, there is bench seating, and the general interior arrangements appear to be largely unaltered since John Rochford’s 1979 reordering.
Architect: Empsall, Clarkson & Clarke
Original Date: 1929
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed