Building » Worksop – St Mary

Worksop – St Mary

Park Street, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, S80

An early and fine Gothic Revival design of 1838-40 by Weightman & Hadfield, built at the expense of the twelfth Duke of Norfolk, after the sale of Worksop Priory (where Catholic worship had been maintained in the eighteenth century). The style is Perpendicular Gothic, with a hammerbeam roof. The church and adjoining contemporary presbytery are set within a burial ground, with the perimeter walls and trees forming a good group in the local townscape and conservation area.

In the early eighteenth century, Mass was said in the domestic chaplaincy of the Dukes of Norfolk at Worksop Manor. By 1743 there were twenty-three practicing Catholic families living in Worksop, and a priest was resident at Worksop Manor in 1747. The house was damaged by fire in 1761, but the chapel survived. The tenth Duke, who was not a Catholic, provided the local Catholic community with a small chapel and priest’s house at Sandhill Dyke in about 1780, adapted from an existing building (the earliest post-Reformation public place of Catholic worship in the diocese, preceding the second Relief Act by about ten years). This building survives today as Park Farm. It has not been visited as part of this review, and the location of the chapel is not certain – the gabled outbuildings with Gothic windows are a possibility.

Worksop Manor and grounds were sold by the twelfth Duke in 1838, when the present church and presbytery were built, at the Duke’s expense. They were built to the designs of J. G. Weightman & M. E. Hadfield; the foundation stone was laid on 29 October 1838 by Michael Ellison, agent to the Duke of Norfolk and uncle of M. E. Hadfield, and the church was opened on 26 February 1840 by Dr Walsh, Vicar Apostolic of the Midland District. The Catholic Magazine provided a description of the church at the time of the opening:

“The design of this chapel has been carried out in a manner highly satisfactory to those who are capable of appreciating the beauties of the ancient architecture of this country. In regards to the exterior, it is only necessary to observe that while its proportions and details have been carefully selected from ancient examples, its carved enrichments have been executed with much spirit and freedom. The interior of the chapel is, however, deserving of a few remarks. The harmony and simplicity of the nave with its traceries open wooden roof, at once recommended themselves to the eye of the beholder. The same may be said of the feeling for ancient architecture developed in the design of the organ loft, the entrance porch, and the seats or stalls, all of which are rendered subservient to the chancel in which is strikingly displays the fitness, for purposes of religion, of the means employed by our Catholic forefathers. The plan of the sanctuary is semi-hexangular, lighted by three windows of stained glass. The altar is of white Roche Abbey stone, richly carved, and upon it rests an elaborate oak screen. The crocketed canopies and pinnacle of which break the line of the window sill. Parts of the whole composition are slightly coloured and gilded after the ancient manner, so as to harmonize with, and at the same time, heighten the gorgeous tints of the windows.”

In 1870, the Duke of Norfolk funded improvements including a new sacristy and confessional, along with the installation of a heating system. This work was carried out under the direction of Matthew Hadfield.

In late 1913, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and the Duchess Sophie von Hohenberg attended Mass at St Mary’s while staying with the Duke of Portland at Welbeck Abbey. Months later, their assassination precipitated the outbreak of the First World War. In 1920 a Georgian-style oak memorial was erected in the church to the memory of soldiers of the parish killed in that war, and in 1953 Bishop Ellis of Nottingham consecrated a new bell as a memorial to parishioners who had lost their lives in both world wars of the twentieth century. The church was consecrated on 24 March 1926.

In 2007 the parish was merged with St Joseph’s, Worksop (qv), from where it is served today. In 2012, St Mary’s was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £110,000 for external repairs and renovation. Internal works included redecoration and a glazed entrance to the nave from the lobby area. A new altar and stone font also formed part of this work (architect Gerard Smith of Smith & Roper of Bakewell).


The church is described in some detail in the list entry (below), and repetition is unnecessary. However, the alterations and reordering associated with the extensive renovation of 2012 can be noted.

List descriptions



Roman Catholic church. 1838, in Gothic Revival style, by M. E. Hadfield for Duke of Norfolk. Nave and apsidal chancel under continuous roof. Ashlar with graduated slate roof; chamfered plinth, sill band, moulded eaves and parapet, 2 coped gables, that to west with bell turret, that to east with cross. Buttressed nave, 5 bays, has 5 cusped head double lancets with hood moulds, on each side. West end has central four centred arched headed doorway in chamfered and rebated reveal with shields in spandrels. Above, 2 corner gargoyles. Above again, Perpendicular style 8 light mullioned and transomed window with cusped heads and hood mould. Above again, Decorated style canopied niche on angel corbel, containing Virgin and child. Gable has shouldered bell turret with chamfered four centred arched bell opening and bronze cross. Buttressed apsidal chancel has triple lancet east window with hood mould, and single flanking double lancets.

Internal porch has 3 Tudor arched doors. Aisleless nave has at rear, organ gallery on curved stone brackets with mask corbels. Roof has corbels with traceried panels carrying hammer beams with arched braces to tiebeams. Traceried spandrels and pendants, chamfered principal timbers. Four centred chancel arch has cove and roll moulding and shaft responds. Chancel roof has arched braces on angel corbels, forming a ribbed vault with decorative bosses. C19 and C20 stained glass. Fittings include C20 ashlar font, lectern and altar and C19 altar with traceried panels and panelled canopied reredos. Plain pews.

Listing NGR: SK5854278387 



Church school. Mid C19. Coursed squared rubble with plain tile roof; ashlar dressings, chamfered plinth, sill and lintel bands, sprocketed eaves, 3 coped gables, one with a cross. Single ridge stack; 2 storeys, 3 bays, T plan. Projecting central wing has a pair of transomed casements; flanked by single paired glazing bar transomed casements. Beyond, to left, a 2 light casement in four centred arched head; to right, blocked doorway with similar head. Above, louvred opening in gable. Left gable has 2 glazing bar casements and above, gable ventilator. Range of C20 buildings at rear are of no interest. Included for group value only.

Listing NGR: SK5857578409

Heritage Details

Architect: Weightman & Hadfield

Original Date: 1840

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Grade II