Building » Sheffield – St Charles Borromeo

Sheffield – St Charles Borromeo

St Charles Street, Attercliffe, Sheffield, S9

An economical stone-built Gothic design of the 1870s and eighties, by local architects of note, with an attached contemporary presbytery. The church has been little altered and contains an interesting and eclectic collection of furnishings. The former school behind the church now houses the diocesan offices and Pastoral Centre. 

The Attercliffe mission was founded from St Marie’s in 1864 and the present church built on land given by William Wake of Osgathorpe. The Duke of Norfolk and the Wake family each gave £500. The architects were Innocent & Brown of Prior Court, Sheffield, the contractor John Milner, and the estimated cost £4,700.The foundation stone was laid on 3 December 1867 and the nave of the church was opened by Dr Cornthwaite, Bishop of Beverley, on 11 August 1868. It was dedicated to St Charles Borromeo in memory of the Wakes’ eldest son Charles, who had been drowned on the Serpentine in London in 1867. The presbytery was built at the same time. The church was completed in 1887 at a cost of £2,400, again with the support of the Wake family and the Duke of Norfolk, when the baptistery and two west porches, extension of the nave, chancel Lady Chapel and sacristies were added (architect C. J. Innocent, builder John Lister of Aston). The completed church was opened by Bishop Cornthwaite on 2 July 1887. 

A school was built to the east of the church in 1871 and rebuilt in 1929. It was further adapted in 1964 by Hadfield, Cawkwell & Davidson but closed in 1981. It was subsequently refurbished by John Rochford & Partner, reopening in 1990 as the Diocese of Hallam Pastoral Centre. 

A Gothic Revival design of 1867-8 by Innocent & Brown, enlarged by C. J. Innocent in 1887. The church is T-shaped on plan, consisting of a western baptistery flanked by two porches, unaisled nave, and sanctuary with Lady Chapel to north and sacristy to south. It is connected to a presbytery, also built in 1867-8. Both buildings are constructed entirely of stone, under slate roofs. The style of the church is transitional early Gothic to middle pointed, with plate tracery at the sides and pierced trefoils to the west window. The west elevation recalls the designs of E. W. Pugin, with its paired west windows, central niche (formerly carrying a statue of St Charles) and gabled bellcote (containing one bell). Projecting buttresses with gabled caps flank the central lean-to baptistery. Within each of the bays at the sides the sides the walls are slightly battered, and to the east on the north side the Lady Chapel leans to the sanctuary.    

Porches on either side of the central baptistery lead into the nave, which is of five bays and has a plain painted timber hammerbeam roof with principals resting on stone corbels. The paired windows at the sides have plate tracery and clear glazing of rectangular leaded lights. The internal walls are plastered and painted (with some hints of concealed polychromy) while the floor is mostly timber boarded. A wide pointed arch gives onto the two-bay sanctuary, and two smaller arched openings onto the Lady Chapel (north) and sacristy (south). The timber roof of the sanctuary is arch braced and there is a three-light east window with a canted head and quatrefoil.

The church has a large collection of furnishings, some of good quality, but which in total effect do not cohere very well. The sanctuary is curiously and colourfully fitted out with cast granolithic or similar furnishings, probably of the 1950s, including high altar, reredos and altar rails. Reference in Evinson to a tile floor designed by Innocent, made by Maw & Co. and laid by Mr Potter of Lichfield presumably refers to an earlier chancel floor arrangement. There is also a small modern timber forward altar. On the north side, late-nineteenth century Gothic timber screens occupy the arches separating the space from the Lady Chapel (designed by C. J. Innocent and made by Harry Hems of Exeter, says Evinson). On the south side of the chancel is the organ, of 1911 by Norman & Beard. There is a timber Gothic altar/shrine with statue in the Lady Chapel and two further similar in the nave, to the Sacred Heart (north side) and St Antony of Padua (south), both with timber enclosures in front. The statues are numerous and of variable quality; at least one (St Patrick, by the chancel arch, figure 1) bears the stamp of the Stuflesser workshop. Other furnishings of note in the nave include a fine hardwood Gothic pulpit (Innocent and Hems), three banks of sturdy Gothic pews of Puginian character, with ends of inverted Y-form and robustly pegged joints, framed polychrome plaster high-relief Stations of the Cross, and the baptistery, with small alabaster font, metal gates and twentieth century stained glass (Baptism of Our Lord, Presentation in the Temple).   

Heritage Details

Architect: Innocent & Brown; C. J. Innocent

Original Date: 1868

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed