Building » Wath-upon-Dearne – St Joseph

Wath-upon-Dearne – St Joseph

Doncaster Road, Wath-upon-Dearne, Rotherham, S63

A carefully-detailed Perpendicular Gothic design by M. E. Hadfield & Son, built with the support of two wealthy local Catholic families. The interior remains largely intact, with rich fittings and furnishings, including a fine reredos by Charles Hadfield and a notable collection of stained glass. The church forms a good group with the adjacent contemporary presbytery. 

In 1877 a mission was established at Wath-upon-Dearne under the Rev. Charles Locke. A year previously, Margaret Cadman had approached Fr Locke regarding the potential to convert the billiard room at her home (Cross House) into a public chapel, but in the event the Cadman family, along with another wealthy local family, the Nicholsons, financed the building of a new church and presbytery. The church was built to the designs of Matthew Hadfield and his son Charles, in a Perpendicular Gothic style similar to St Joseph in Handsworth (qv), based on late fifteenth-century churches in the area. The church was built to accommodate 300, and was opened on 5 May 1879 by Bishop Cornthwaite of Leeds. It was described in the following terms by The Tablet:

“The church and presbytery adjoining have been built at the expense of Mrs. Cadman and Mr. and Mrs. B. Nicholson. The design of the church has been carefully studied from the old churches of the district erected at the close of the 15th century, or, as it is known to archaeologists, the late rectilinear period. A fleche or spirelet of stone marks the division between nave and chancel, and rises to a height of 70 feet, and in it are hung two fine toned bells. A picturesque entrance porch, with a niche and figure of St. Joseph holding in his arms the Infant Saviour, is a pleasing feature of the front, and leads by massive oak doors into a well proportioned interior, consisting of a nave 61 feet by 24 feet, and a chancel 24 feet long, with an organ chamber placed on the north side, and with oak benches or choir stalls. The chancel arch, of bold design, which upholds the stone bell turret, affords a view of the richly designed eastern or altar window of five lights, containing in the centre the crucifixion with figures of the Blessed Virgin and St John, the remaining four lights containing figures of St. Augustine, St. John of Beverley, St. Ann and St. Mary Magdalen. It was the gift of Miss Cadman (Mrs. Gerard Young) as an inscription records. The glass is rich and sparkling, and is, with the two side windows, from the firm of Lavers, Barraud, and Westlake.  A handsome font of carved stone, with an oak spire or cover, the gift of Mr. F. S. Cadman, is placed at the south-west corner, and the church is seated with open benches of pitch pine of excellent workmanship. Adjoining on the south side, a corridor leads to the house and a commodious sacristy, handsomely and completely fitted up. There is a pavement of Goodwin’s encaustic tiles in the chancel, and the floor of the nave is laid with blue and red Staffordshire quarries. The architects were Messrs. Hadfield and Son, of Sheffield.”

A high altar and reredos were added in 1886, also described in The Tablet:

“The new work is designed in the same style as the church, which belongs to the late Gothic or Perpendicular period. The reredos extends across the east end of the chancel, with richly carved panelling, and niches of Beer-stone containing statues of St. Joseph and St. Peter. There are also panels in high relief on each side under canopies, representing the deaths of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin. The altar and tabernacle are of choice, highly polished alabaster, the altar slab being of Hopton Wood marble. Beneath is a sculptural representation of the Dead Christ, the head and feet supported by angels, in white polished alabaster. This work of art, as also the fine figure of St. Peter, are from the chisel of Mr. Frank Tory, a rising local sculptor and student of the Sheffield School of Art. Mr. Wall, sculptor of Cheltenham, has carried out the remainder of the work in his best style, from the drawings and under the superintendence of Messrs. Hadfield, of Sheffield, the architects.”

A 1972 photograph of the interior by Chappell shows the sanctuary intact at that date. Reordering by John Rochford & Partners in 1981 involved separation of the altar and reredos and removal of the communion rails and the shrine to Our Lady (visible in the photograph on the south wall near the entrance to the sacristy). The work was carried out by Ormsby of Scarisbrick (reordering information from Dr Paul Walker).


The church was designed by M.E. Hadfield & Son of Sheffield and opened in 1879. It is built of sandstone with moulded details, a red tiled roof and cast iron rainwater goods, and the style is Perpendicular Gothic. The plan comprises a five-bay unaisled nave and sanctuary under one roof, with projections to the north for the porch and organ chamber.

The west end has a five-light pointed window with Geometrical tracery, a stone cross finial to the gable apex, corner buttresses and a moulded sill band. The side elevations have three-light square-headed windows with a single buttress marking the second bay division. The entrance is via the gabled porch on the north side, with a (painted) statue of St Joseph holding the infant Jesus, placed in a niche above. On the north elevation of the sanctuary a small rectangular windowless projection accommodates the organ loft, with gabled buttresses and a corbel table with stone carved heads and flowers. The division of the nave and sanctuary is marked by a small bellcote with short spire. The east end has a four-light window with Geometrical tracery, stone corner buttresses and moulded plinth and sill string course. The north and south sides of the sanctuary are each lit by a three-light window with hood mould. All windows are currently covered in disfiguring polycarbonate protection. A single-storey sacristy connects the south side of the church to the contemporary presbytery, also by Hadfield & Son.

The north porch leads into the main body of the church. The five-bay nave has an arch-braced wagon roof with wall shafts and corbels, and sill band. The walls are plainly painted (any polychromy now lost or concealed) with modern pine panelling to dado level, and the floors carpeted (it is not clear whether the original tiles described in The Tablet remain). On either side of the wide chancel arch are niches containing statues of Our Lady and the Sacred Heart. The sanctuary was reordered by John Rochford & Partners in 1981. The high altar (designed by Charles Hadfield and made by Wall of Cheltenham, assisted by Frank Tory, a local sculptor) is described in the account in The Tablet (above), as is the stained glass by Lavers, Barraud & Westlake. On the south side of the chancel is a fine organ by James Conacher & Sons of Huddersfield.

Other stained glass includes, on the north side of the nave, the eastern window by E. R. Frampton (1855), the third window by Lavers & Westlake (1904), and the western window (a memorial to Frederick Cadman, d. 1880, erected by his widow Margaret). In the nave are hand-painted Stations of the Cross (artist/maker not established) and the original pitch pine pews.

Heritage Details

Architect: M.E. Hadfield & Son

Original Date: 1879

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II