Building » Wrekenton – St Oswald

Wrekenton – St Oswald

High Street, Wrekenton, Gateshead NE9

A handsome stone-built Early English Gothic design of the early twentieth century; not adventurous for its date and internally quite plain, but nevertheless a prominent feature in the local scene, forming a good group with the (earlier) presbytery. 

Situated on the highest part of Gateshead Fell, and at the southern edge of the Borough of Gateshead, Wrekenton was bleak open country until the enclosure of Gateshead Common in 1818. The name of the settlement was suggested to Mr Watson, developer of the village, by the historian, John Hodgson. By 1834 a considerable village of small cottages had grown around the colliery.

The mission was originally served by Benedictines from Birtley. A school/chapel was built in 1884, and a presbytery in 1892. The altar and altar stone from the old church at Birtley used in the church of 1884. The foundation stone for the present church, which was designed by J. C. Parsons of Newcastle, was laid by Auxiliary Bishop Preston on 31 May 1902 and the church was opened on 21 February 1903. The estimated cost in 1902 was £3000. The Benedictines handed the parish over to the diocese in 1951. The church was reordered in the early 1980s by Richard Dietz Lyons Associates, when a new link between the church and presbytery was also added.

This church is a conventional Early English Gothic style building of simple plan, the only extensions to the rectangle being the on the north a lower link to the presbytery (c1983), and a parish room. The church is built of irregularly coursed sandstone blocks with ashlar dressings, and the steeply-pitched dark grey slate roof has ashlar copings, gabled foot stones, and stone cross finials. The nine bays are separated by sturdy stepped buttresses. All windows are trefoil-headed lancets (disguised by polycarbonate sheets filling the openings). The west door has a moulded two-centred pointed arch under a block-stopped dripmould, and internal doors have shouldered lintels. At the west end there is one step up the central door, in a coped projecting panel; between buttresses and the central bay are impost strings to the flanking single windows; three stepped lancets above have an impost string.

Inside, the striking roof has scissor-braced trusses on corbelled wall posts, and four levels of purlins, the ceiling boarded above the fourth. The centre of the west organ gallery breaks forward, supported on timber posts. The sanctuary has a panelled dado, one full-width step to the sanctuary platform, another to the altar, and two steps to the platform for the tabernacle stand. Sanctuary furniture is simply made of slabs of white stone. Window glass has coloured insets, except for the World War II memorial window, and three east windows with Calvary figures.

Heritage Details

Architect: J. C. Parsons

Original Date: 1903

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed