Building » Stockton-on-Tees – St Mary

Stockton-on-Tees – St Mary

Major Street, Stockton-on-Tees TS18

A large, accretive Gothic Revival church, ranging in date from 1841 to 1909. Its most significant phase is the first, by A. W. Pugin, but this is now discernible only in the roof and external west end of the nave. The subsequent additions are of lesser architectural distinction. Liturgical reordering has resulted in the truncation or loss of many historic furnishings, but several remain. The church occupies a prominent position within the town centre conservation area. 

A Catholic chapel was built in Stockton in about 1790, but the present building, which was the first permanent Catholic church to be established on Teesside in the nineteenth century, was opened on 7 July 1842 by Bishop Mostyn. A new and larger church had been necessitated by the large-scale arrival of immigrants, many of them Irish, looking for work in the ship repair, steel and chemical industries. The founder of the mission was Fr Joseph Dugdale, and his architect was the great architectural and Catholic polemicist, A.W. Pugin.

The north aisle and lower part of the tower were added in 1866 at a cost of £1,300. In 1870 there followed the south aisle and sanctuary by Goldie & Child, added at a cost of £4,000. The upper stage of the tower and a clerestory were added in 1909, along with the presbytery, from designs by Hadfield of Sheffield. 

The church was reroofed in 1970 when the sanctuary was also reordered in accordance with Vatican II principles. The earlier appearance of the interior included a nave pulpit with elaborate Gothic canopy, altar rails, polychrome decoration at the east end and Gothic altars with elaborate reredoses in the Sacred Heart and Lady chapels.  


The exterior is described in the list entry (below). Pugin’s work remains a matter of historical importance and his west façade shows his careful attention to reproducing the best exemplars of medieval architecture. The 1840s roof remains, although altered by the addition of the clerestory. The no-doubt very necessary subsequent expansion of the building has overwhelmed the 1840s work. That of 1908-09 has a particularly strong effect with the obtrusive clerestory and a weakly detailed tower.

The sanctuary retains the stone reredos of the high altar, minus the mensa. It has a central tabernacle and monstrance throne within an aedicule, flanked by statues of the four Evangelists under Gothic arcades. There is a plain stone forward altar with applied Lamb and flag quatrefoil panel, and the Gothic ambo may be the remains of the cut down nave pulpit. A hanging crucifix is suspended from the sanctuary arch. Stone Gothic altars remain in the side chapels, with fine full-size polychrome statues of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart, but minus the elaborate reredoses which originally framed them. Stained glass includes a window near the Lady Chapel to the memory of Fr Dugdale, founder of the mission.

List description


Roman Catholic. Opened 1842. Design attributed to A W N Pugin, later additions north transept, east vestries and apparently the tower – by Messrs C Hadfield & Sons. 4 bay aisled nave with gabled clerestory lights; 2 bay chancel with apse. West font early English: central pointed doorway of several orders and label. Above are 5 lancets with triple keeled shafts and dog-tooth upper mouldings. Vesica window in coped gable. Pair of lancets at west end of south aisle. Tower at north west corner. 5 styles with set back buttresses having pointed terminals containing blind cusped tracery. Embattled parapet. 2nd stage of tower has 2 tall lancets with drilled patterns in jambs. The north entrance, under the tower, also with drilled jambs. Main porch to south. Gabled chapel to south west. 4 bay window to interior with organ loft bay to west.

Heritage Details

Architect: A.W.N. Pugin; not established; Goldie & Child; C. & C.M. Hadfield

Original Date: 1842

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II