Building » Sunderland – Holy Rosary

Sunderland – Holy Rosary

Arbroath Road, Sunderland SR3

A simple brick design of the 1950s, built to serve a post-war housing estate. Its elevated position beside a major road gives it a certain degree of prominence. The character of the interior has been compromised by a suspended ceiling in the nave, but the ‘Mouseman’ Thompson furnishings are worthy of note.  

The parish was erected in 1949 and the present church and associated facilities built in 1953. The identity of the architect(s) has not been established, but stylistic similarities with St Cecilia and St Patrick, Sunderland (1955-57 qv) suggest the hand of S. W. Milburn & Partners of Sunderland.  In c2003 the church interior was enhanced for its Golden Jubilee, with new furnishings by the ‘Mouseman’ Thompson Company of Kilburn, Yorkshire.


The church is orientated northeast-southwest but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation.

The church is a simple portal framed and stretcher bond brick-clad design of 1954 with reconstituted stone dressings and a steep plain tile roof. A photograph in the presbytery shows that there were originally dormer windows in the nave, now removed. The western bay of the nave is recessed slightly, while the roof continues down in catslide form over the remaining bays to give the impression of narrow aisles. The bays are divided by raking buttresses, and there are four arched windows to each bay (the windows now uPVC). There are gabled projections at the west end (longer) and on the north side (short). The sanctuary has a lower ridge and a plain east wall with a large inset concrete cross. On the south side, there are single-storey links to the presbytery and parish hall, the former forming an entrance vestibule to the church.

Inside, the church consists of a single aisleless nave separated from the lower sanctuary by a parabolic arch. The portal frame construction of the roof is concealed in part by a more recent suspended ceiling.  The east and upper west walls of the nave and the walls of the eastern nave bay and the chancel are plastered, while the remaining side walls of the nave are of bare brick. At the west end of the nave there is a brick-fronted gallery, and below this a baptistery (to which the font has recently been returned) and piety shop flanking the entrance lobby. The nave benches are of oak. The sanctuary dais projects in front of the chancel arch and is raised on three semi-circular carpeted steps. There is a similar series of steps at the east end to the tabernacle. The sanctuary furnishings are all of c2006, and were made by the ‘Mouseman’ Thompson Co. of Kilburn, Yorkshire, who also provided new doors in the church and furnishings in the sacristy.

Heritage Details

Architect: Not established

Original Date: 1953

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed