Building » Sunderland – St Anne

Sunderland – St Anne

Hylton Road, Pennywell, Sunderland SR4

An attractive, well-detailed design of the 1950s, sensitively reordered in the 1990s.   

The church was built in 1957, to serve new housing estates in the Pennywell area. Seating 400, it was built from designs by Matkin & Hawkins of Sunderland, and the builder was Mr J. Cummings. The contract sum was £23,577 (including additional foundation work made necessary to resist mining subsidence). The church was opened and blessed by Auxiliary Bishop Cunningham on 21 November 1957.

The internal and external appearance of the church as originally built was illustrated in The Catholic Building Review (1957). In 1960 the presbytery was added and in 1961 a narthex addition was put on the church, both from the designs of Matkin & Hawkins. The primary school to the side and rear of the church was built soon after that.

The church has been internally reordered, from plans prepared in 1997 by Vincente Stienlet.


The church is orientated roughly north-south, but this description follows conventional liturgical orientation, i.e. as if the altar was at the east end.

The church is of reinforced concrete portal frame construction, externally clad with russet brown facing brick, roofed with Westmorland slates and with metal windows with reconstituted stone, brick or creased tile surrounds. On plan it consists of a wide aisleless nave and narrower sanctuary. Two projections at the west end, that on the north side originally housing a baptistery. A Lady Chapel gives off the south side of the sanctuary and sacristies give off the north side. The two gabled western projections each have arched windows with creased tile surrounds. On the return of the southern projection is a foundation stone recording the name of the Rev. R. Morrissy, builder of the church in 1957. Between the projections is a later lean-to western narthex, with arched window openings separated by short stone columns with cushion capitals. Over the narthex in the gable is a slender stone sculpture of Our Lady, under a timber canopy. As originally designed, this was placed over an entrance with a somewhat baroque stone surround. The windows at the sides are larger, with projecting reconstituted stone surrounds and segmental tops under cambered brick arches. Tall windows light the back of the sanctuary from the sides, each of three lights angled inwards. There is a high circular east window are of three lights with cruciform subdivisions, externally expressed as a reconstituted stone cross.

In the narthex is a piety shop, screened off by wrought iron gates, probably those from the baptistery. This was in the projection to the north (now a small sacristy and WC). The projection to the south contains the stair to a western gallery and (originally) confessionals. The gallery has a curved front and contains a large imported nineteenth century pipe organ with nicely painted pipes, made by Nelson & Co. of Durham. The portal frame defines the bays of the nave, the walls of which are plastered and painted white except for the east wall, which is left as bare brick. Within this is the chancel arch, with tapering sides and a four-centred arch. The sanctuary is discreetly side-lit and its walls are painted green. The circular, carpeted dais of the reordered sanctuary projects forward of the chancel arch and occupies the eastern bay of the nave. The benches are of mahogany, made by Hearne’s of Waterford, and have square panelled ends and open backs; they are now raked inwards. The sanctuary furnishings all appear to belong to the c1997 reordering, possibly incorporating original elements. The Lady Chapel contains some modern glass depicting vines.

Heritage Details

Architect: Matkin & Hawkins

Original Date: 1957

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Not Listed