Building » Sunderland – Holy Family

Sunderland – Holy Family

Gardiner Road, Sunderland SR4

A functional but well-designed church of the 1960s, reflecting the liturgical changes ushered in with the Second Vatican Council. There are some furnishings of note. 

The parish was erected in 1960 to serve the new housing estate of Grindon Village, on the western side of the Sunderland borough. A one-acre site was acquired, on which to build a church, presbytery and parish hall. A temporary, prefabricated dual-purpose church and hall was built from designs by Pascal J. Stienlet & Son; construction took twelve weeks. This church was opened by Bishop Cunningham on 28 July 1960. A presbytery was built soon afterwards.

The temporary church was replaced by the present building in 1967-8, from designs by Anthony J. Rossi ARIBA of Consett. It was designed to seat 360 and planned to serve the new liturgy, with seating arranged around the sanctuary on three sides.


The church is of steel-framed construction, externally faced with Swarland buff bricks. The shallow-pitched pyramidal roof was originally covered with flaxboard and Nuraphalte roofing. A thirty foot white conical fleche (originally surmounted by a stainless steel star) rises from the centre of the roof. It is square on plan, with projections at the east and west ends, the former housing the tabernacle and the latter for a baptistery. An entrance lobby is in the southwest corner and an enclosed Lady Chapel in the northwest corner. The floor of the congregational space is laid with woodblock and the original oak benches, made by the Hilton Cabinet Company of Lichfield, are arranged around three sides of the sanctuary.  The church was designed from the outset with a forward altar; this and the tabernacle plinth within the apsidal recess are of Prudham stone. The tabernacle recess is framed by projecting fins and a flat projecting canopy, now lost within a more recent suspended ceiling.  On either side of this recess, oak statues of the Holy Family by Fenwick Lawson are mounted on the wall (previously in the Lady Chapel).

Recent reordering has seen the removal of the original wooden communion rails and the return of the font to its original location in the baptistery. The church has been redecorated and a good small pipe organ by N. P. Mander acquired from a redundant Methodist church.

Heritage Details

Architect: Anthony J. Rossi

Original Date: 1968

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed