King Street, Seahouses, Northumberland NE68
A 1972 purpose-built modest brick church that creates a pleasant worship space with some interesting and good quality stained glass.
Sea Houses began as a natural fishing harbour for North Sunderland, with a small scale lime industry by the early nineteenth century. The development of tourism, exploiting the vast sandy beach and trips to the Farne Islands grew after the Second World War with the creation of large caravan sites and housing aimed at the retired.
In 1970 the diocese investigated purchasing the 1925 Methodist Chapel (then in use as a bingo hall) ‘as a seasonal presence for a Mass Centre’ (letter from surveyor William C Harvey in the diocesan archives). However, in 1971, a detached house in Kings Street in use as a doctor’s surgery was purchased and Reavill and Cahill, architects of Alnwick, designed St Aidan’s church as an attachment to the house. J. Campbell Smith of Beale was the builder and the 15 August 1972 contract sum was £13,815. The church was to seat seventy people with a sacristy in the northeast link, but numbers attending now are such that the former surgery in the house is now used as an overspill chapel with a television link to the church. The parish have planned a north side extension, but the project has been suspended by the diocese for the present.
The church faces north east, but for the purposes of this report, conventional liturgical compass points are used i.e. the altar at the east end.
The church was built in 1972 on to an existing detached house. Red brick with plain clay tile roof, with timber external joinery. A rectangular plan with a steep pitched roof and pitched roof link at right angles leading to the pebbledashed house at the northeast. The modest round headed west entrance leads to a domestic scale west door, with a toilet on the north side and foyer area to the south. A brick cross is placed in both the entrance and east gables. The only external articulation is brick corner buttresses topped with concrete; the wood-framed rectangular vertical windows are set under the eaves. The sanctuary is distinguished by three thin rectangular windows to each side.
The interior space is given interest by the ceiling of exposed rafters at a much lower pitch than might be expected from the exterior, with a slatted central inverted ‘v’ feature that encloses the lights running right up to the tabernacle recess on the east wall. The brick walls are painted white; the windows have obscured plain glass, except in the sanctuary where the vertical windows are filled with good 1973 glass by P. M. Crook; saints to the north, representations of the Holy Spirit to the south.
The stone tabernacle plinth is painted with St Aidan’s cross and flanked with pebbles from the beach. The wooden altar is supported by purple brick piers. The original pews were sold by a previous parish priest and the present pews came ‘from near Fenwick’.
Architect: Reavill and Cahill of Alnwick
Original Date: 1972
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed