Building » Washington – St Bede

Washington – St Bede

A traditional church in modern forms by a well-known local architect, retaining much of its original mid-1960s character.

The church was built shortly after the designation of Washington as a new town in 1964, principally to serve the new Coach Road Estate. The architect was Anthony J. Rossi of Consett, who built a number of churches in the diocese about that time. 

The church is a modern design, on a traditional longitudinal plan. There is a tall nave and sanctuary with a continuous ridge roof, tall narrow flat-roofed side aisles to the nave and a northeast Lady Chapel. The church is built with a steel portal frame with buff brick facing to walls with concrete detailing, clay tiles to the main roofs and asphalt to the flat roofs. As with several of Rossi’s church, the west front is of striking form, here with a central doorway and central and side window openings following the form of the main gable, whose roof is brought forward to form a tall canopy supported on four tapering piloti.  Both walls of the nave are ‘pleated’, with six narrow west-facing windows carried up to the flat aisle roofs.  Above the aisles the nave has a clerestory of metal strip windows. The sanctuary side walls have two triple mullioned windows set in a single rectangular frame.  The east wall of the sanctuary is blind.

 

Internally the nave reads as a single large space, although the verticals of the steel frames stand clear of the walls, forming narrow flat-ceilinged passage aisles. The internal walls are plastered, the ceiling is panelled between the purlins of the main roof trusses. At the west end of the nave is a gallery. At the east end is a simple tall gabled opening to the sanctuary which is raised up three steps. A lower opening of similar form leads to the Lady Chapel on the north side of the sanctuary.  The building is clear-glazed throughout.  The sanctuary was apparently adapted to meet the requirements of the new liturgy immediately after the church was finished and some of its furnishings may be of that date, as are the benches in the nave. 

Heritage Details

Architect: Anthony J. Rossi of Consett

Original Date: 1965

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed