Thropton, Morpeth, Northumberland NE65
A building evocative of the early nineteenth century with its decorated polygonal sanctuary embedded into the old hall and Y-tracery windows. The plasterwork is very much of its 1810 date and the approach to the west front along a stone walled path emphasises the then somewhat secretive nature of Catholic worship.
Thropton is about three miles east of Rothbury and Catholic worship is recorded in various private houses around Rothbury from the mid-seventeenth century. Cartington Castle, home of the Charlton family was the focus for Thropton from at least 1697. A very broken marble plaque recording the generosity of Dame Mary Charlton d.1703 is set into the churchyard wall and its slightly edited modern copy is to the right of the west door. The diocesan Calendar gives 1753 as the start date for the mission, perhaps relating to the Rev. Luke Potts, resident here 1750-87. However, it was Rev. Thomas Stout (priest from 1797) who rebuilt Thropton Old Hall as a presbytery in 1810 with the present church attached on its west side. A fireplace within the house is dated 1811.
In 1842, Rev. George Carless extended this chapel westward to its present size and the extent of his work can be seen on the north side where the stone tooling changes. As the two niches on the modest west facade are stylistically of 1810 rather than 1842, they are possibly re-used, whereas the bellcote has the scale of 1842 work.
A photograph of c.1900 in the church shows the present freestanding wooden altar standing against the east wall of the sanctuary, beneath the existing wooden reredos. There were wooden altar rails, large Stations of the Cross around the nave and stencilling to the sanctuary. The date of the late twentieth century re-ordering has not been established, but the present colour scheme is from 2009. The church was then carpeted, storage cupboards built to the north of the west lobby and a small sacristy area established to the south, following the sale of the presbytery.
The list description (below) is an accurate account, but could be amended as follows:
Roman Catholic Church; late C18 or early C19, altered 1842. Horizontally- tooled stone except for west end, tooled-and-margined stone with ashlar dressings; Welsh slate roof. Aisleless rectangular plan, with presbytery (q.v.) adjoining east end. 1842 west end has boarded double doors in large moulded arch beneath 2 carved niches with corbelled sills holding figures of saints. Expanded-arm cross in gable and gabled bellcote with twin pointed arches and Greek cross finial. Stepped diagonal buttresses carrying small pinnacles. Built into wall on right of door is copy of C18 inscribed stone, the original being set in the adjacent graveyard wall (q.v.). South wall 5 bays; sill band, 2-light Y-tracery windows with hoodmoulds. 2 similar windows on north, the eastern blocked.
Interior: Plastered. Internal 3-sided apse beyond pendant screen of 3 pointed arches with crocketed pinnacle in spandrels: panelled rear wall with similar arches on paired rounded pilasters. Moulded stone font.
Architect: Not established
Original Date: 1810
Conservation Area: No
Listed Grade: Grade II*