St Gregory’s Court, South Shields, Tyne & Wear NE34
A plain inter-war church which was extended and re-orientated in 1982. It contains several pieces of sculpture by local artist Fenwick Lawson.
The parish was erected in 1929 when the present church was built and the first resident priest arrived. Initially the house to the north of the church served as a presbytery, while a hall occupied the site to the south of the church. The church was approached by a path from Sunderland Road straight to the west doors. In 1977, a new hall was built to the southwest of the church. In the early 1980s, the church was re-orientated, with the sanctuary in a newly-built apse off the north side. The architect for the re-orientation and reordering was Ralph Pattisson of Ainsworth Spark Associates, Newcastle. The contractors were Messrs Sadler Brothers (Builders) Ltd, Newcastle. The church was consecrated on 3 September 1982.
During the 1980s or 1990s, a flat-roofed children’s room extension was added to the liturgical north, a new presbytery was built on the site of the first hall and corridors linking all three buildings around a central courtyard.
The church originally faced east. However, following the reordering of 1982 the sanctuary is now located at the north. The following description uses the conventional liturgical orientation.
The church has brick walls laid in stretcher bond with a slate roof. The plan is rectangular with a projecting three-sided apse at the central of the long east wall. The church has no visible main façade, as its west elevation which faces the courtyard is obscured by the glazed corridor linking it to the hall and the presbytery. The former east (now south) elevation with three stepped oblong windows overlooks St Mary’s Avenue.
The seven-bay interior has an open king-post roof and rendered walls. The north wall has an octagonal gable window above the baby room in the former main entrance which has two windows to the nave. The west wall has three square windows and two entrance doors. The sanctuary has an octagonal timber platform below two skylights and a suspended statue of the Risen Christ, by Fenwick Lawson (b.1932). The tabernacle is set into the wall between two thin lancets filled with blue and red glass. The brass door of the tabernacle depicts the pelican in her piety, framed by a marble surround. Lectern, chair and altar are a matching set of roughly-hewn local stone. Also part of that matching set is the octagonal stone basin (usually filled with goldfish) beside a more conventional octagonal marble font. Other pieces by Fenwick Lawson include the timber paschal candlestand, a wall-mounted dove above the goldfish basin, the timber processional cross and a timber Annunciation sculpture. A modern pipe organ stands in the southwest corner. Initially, the seating was arranged in four blocks of pews centred on the polygonal sanctuary. Now, it consists of four blocks all facing east.
Architect: Not established; Ainsworth Spark Associates
Original Date: 1929
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Not Listed