Building » Stamford – St Mary and St Augustine

Stamford – St Mary and St Augustine

Broad Street, Stamford, Lincolnshire

An idiosyncratic High Victorian church by the eminent Catholic architect, George Goldie, built of stone in a stone town. Its distinctive west front and unusual bellcote along with Goldie’s adjoining school building, are prominent features in the conservation area.

The mission in Stamford dates from around 1800. Certainly by 1804 Mass was being said in a vaulted undercroft at 24 High Street St Martin’s, home of Dr Joseph Michael. In 1815 a house at 19 All Saints Street was purchased and ten years later a chapel built in the yard behind. In 1833 no. 19 was demolished and a larger chapel built on the site, ‘a very pretty, elegant little structure’. This in turn was demolished in 1876, having been sold when the present church was built. In 1861 the 26-year old Fr James Daly was put in charge of the mission and the following year the Dolphin Inn on Broad Street was purchased for £1,000 for the parish by the convert Charles Ormston Eaton, of Tolethorpe Hall. Eaton also contributed towards the cost of building the present church, for which plans were drawn up in 1862 by George Goldie, then aged 34. Goldie had left the firm of Hadfield & Goldie of Sheffield two years earlier and set up on his own account in London. In 1863 the pub was demolished and the foundation stone of the church laid. Progress was slow and the church did not open until 6 June 1865, the belfry not added until 1871. The school was built in 1869 and opened the following year.


The altar faces north but for the purposes of this description all references to compass points will assume a conventional eastward facing altar. The list description (below) is brief. The emphasis, unsurprisingly, is on the west front and the belfry where most of the architectural embellishment is concentrated. The building is of stone in a stone town. The west front does have a rather squat form, giving credence to the suggestion that the walls had been intended to be built up higher but that lack of funds led to the church being roofed before completion. The style is a mix of thirteenth  century Gothic with some more Romanesque forms. The west front has  a blind arcade interrupted by the large west window with Geometrical tracery. A mandorla above has relief carving of the Virgin and Child by the local stonemason, William Hilliam. The real fun in the design is in the southwest belfry, placed side on so as to be viewed to advantage from along Broad Street. Pevsner called it ‘unbelievable’; it is certainly that and provokes a smile. The list description adequately describes its form. On the north side of the church the north aisle has two gables to the courtyard formed by church, presbytery and former school (opened 1870, closed 1959). Two light windows with Geometrical tracery. Third, lower gable, to the porch which stands in front of the belfry. The doorway has an arch of three orders of fleurons and a kind of fleur de lys supported on colonettes with stiff-leaf capitals. The east end has a canted apse and a further projecting rounded apse to the southeast chapel. The apse windows continue the chunky High Victorian forms. Circular east window in the form of an Alisée patée cross, the arms of which are pierced by small glazed circles and the gaps between the arms are also glazed. The windows to the right three encircled cinquefoils set within a pointed arch.

After the busy exterior the interior is slightly disappointing, not helped by the fact that Goldie’s elaborate high altar and reredos which filled the east wall were removed in a 1950s reordering. The north aisle, which functions more as a side chapel (dedicated to St Joseph), has a two-bay arcade of round arches on short granite columns with gargantuan crocketed leaf capitals. Three-bay arcade to the northeast chapel, the third easternmost arch is angled as part of the canted east apse. Together with a part glazed roof, as the chapel is hemmed in by other buildings, this gives a very unusual effect. Here the polished granite columns are taller and one is treated as a cluster of four shafts. The arches are pointed. The sanctuary was again reordered, and given a new altar, in 1982 by Peter Roberts, architect and member of the parish. The painted ceiling was cleaned in 1981. The northeast Lady Chapel was redecorated in the early 1950s by Lawrence Bond, including the linenfold panelling. The painted ceiling of the sanctuary and St Joseph’s chapel both date originally from 1874. The linenfold panelling in the latter was installed in 1945 to designs by Henry Traylen. The two stained glass windows date from 1873-4 by Wailes & Son of Newcastle and have the typically rich colouring of that firm’s work. The carved Stations of the Cross date from 1945, a gift of the departing American armed forces.  The font was designed by Goldie, of Ketton stone with Red Mansfield stone shafts and was given in 1866. Small ebony cross, given in 1992 by the Wajir Kenyan Mission.

List descriptions



1864. Architect G Goldie. Coursed rubble with ashlar dressings. Welsh slate roof. Gabled to front with finial contains mandorla of Madonna and Child above 2 short bank arcades divided by column with foliated capital flank large arched window with quatrefoil above lancets. Unusual asymmetrically placed bell-cote with steep hipped roof with iron ridge and finial. Piers flank bell above blank arcades separated by half-columns with foliated capitals. Upper part of ashlar. Porch to left side of church. Interior has short piers, some of red granite. Listed solely as a feature of the street.

The Roman Catholic Church of St Augustine, School, Wall and gate piers to Church with Nos 14,15 and Nos 17 to 22 (consec) form a group. Listing NGR: TF0308407314



One composition with the church (qv) 1864. Architect G Goldie. Gable to road contains cusped light above 2 lancets. 8 paired 2-light lancets to side. Porch on right side. Coursed rubble with ashlar dressings. Welsh slate roof.
The Roman Catholic Church of St Augustine, School, Wall and gate piers to Church with Nos 14, 15 and Nos 17 to 22 (consec) form a group. Listing NGR: TF0306307304

Wall and gate piers


One composition with the church (qv), Low stone wall and 5 stone gate piers. The Roman Catholic Church of St Augustine, School, Wall and Gate Piers to Church with Nos 14, 15 and Nos 17 to 22 (consec) form a group.
Listing NGR: TF0307007296 

Heritage Details

Architect: George Goldie

Original Date: 1865

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II