High Street, Yarm, North Yorkshire
One of several in the diocese by George Goldie, the church is in a vigorous High Victorian style, built of brick and using structural polychromy which was so popular in Gothic Revival architecture at the time. The tall bellcote rising behind the north porch is a particularly distinctive and unusual feature, and the church occupies a prominent position in the otherwise mainly Georgian townscape of Yarm.
There is a long history of Catholic witness in Yarm, a survival of which is the wooden altar panel housed in the Chantry at the church: this panel is said to date back to 1695 when Mass was being said in The Friary, the home of John Mayes. In 1795 the Meynell family, by then owners of The Friary, fitted out a chapel in the roof space and were served by Jesuit chaplains. By 1840 there was a parish priest who acted as chaplain to the Meynells. The present building owes its origin to Thomas Meynell as a gift to his wife, Jayne. The couple spent three months of their honeymoon in Florence where they came in contact with Camaldolse monks whose order had been founded by St Romuald of Ravenna – hence the saint’s inclusion in the dedication. The church was opened on 3 May 1860. The Meynells built a school, opened in 1863, the same year that Thomas died. In 1937 the chapel, priest’s house and school were transferred to the diocese.
The church consists of an aisleless nave with continuous three-sided sanctuary; north porch, behind which rises a large, tiered bellcote; and at the southeast a vestry and the small Meynell Chantry. The church is built of red brick with buff sandstone dressings. The latter are used polychromatically, notably in the nave window heads and the arch to the porch. The roof is covered with grey slates and has an iron crest on the chancel ridge, and pierced ornamental tiles on the nave cresting. The nave windows are flush with the wall-plane as was popular in muscular High Victorian architecture: they are large, of two-lights and with a foiled circle in their heads. The sanctuary windows, by contrast, are small with three rectangular lights per bay. The most striking feature of the exterior, however, is the bellcote, placed behind the north porch and flush with the nave north wall: it rises from a broad base through a series of offsets to an octagonal cap surmounted by a cross. The west window is large and has five lights with early Decorated tracery.
Internally, the walls are plastered and they (and all they other surfaces) have been painted cream. There is no structural division between the nave and the sanctuary. In the sanctuary each of the windows lights is flanked by foliated shafts. Covering the whole is a panelled, seven-sided roof.
At the east end there is an ornate reredos with integral stone altar and which must date from 1860: it has a central tabernacle with painted decoration on the door: either side are square panels with censing angels. The front of the altar has red and buff tiles. At the west end the window is filled with stained glass (possibly by Hardman) to the memory of Thomas Meynell (d. 1863) and given by his wife. The windows in the sanctuary are filled with attractive patterns of coloured and grisaille glass. In the Meynell Chantry is one of three wooden altar frontal panels (the other two are in the Bowes Museum) from a former altar in The Friary: it bears the IHS monogram. The benches are simple with chamfered-off corners on the eastern faces.
List description (the church was listed in 2016, following Taking Stock)
Summary: Roman Catholic church, 1859-60 by Hadfield and Goldie (thought to be the work of Goldie). High Victorian Gothic style. The later rectory to the North is not included in the listing.
Reasons for Designation: The Roman Catholic church of St Mary and St Romuald, 1858-60 to designs of Hadfield and Goldie is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: a well-detailed example of the use of structural polychromatic brickwork, popular in the 1860s; * Composition: maximising its location in the market town of Yarm, the church forms a prominent local landmark with a dominating and confident bell tower; * Fixtures and fittings: the high alter is well-detailed and the high quality stained glass window is consistent with the quality work of John Hardman Powell; * Degree of survival: it has an intact exterior, and the inevitable minor re-ordering of the sanctuary and the replacement of the wooden benches do not detract significantly from the church’s overall interest; * Architect: George Goldie was one of the foremost C19 Catholic architects in England and this church is a relatively early example of his work, which compares favourably with other listed examples.
History: Post Reformation Catholic worship has a long history in Yarm. In 1695 Mass is said to have taken place in the Friary, home of John Mayes; the wooden altar panel housed in the side chapel at the present church is said to date to this time. In 1795 the Meynell family, owners of the Friary, fitted out a chapel in the roof space and were served by Jesuit chaplains. By 1840 there was a parish priest who acted as chaplain to the Meynells. The present building was a gift from Thomas Meynell to his wife, Jayne. The couple spent three months of their honeymoon in Florence where they came in contact with Camaldolse monks whose order had been founded by St Romuald of Ravenna – hence the saint’s inclusion in the dedication. The church was opened on 3 May 1860. It is considered that the stained glass of the west window inserted in 1863 was probably by John Hardman Powell. Stations of the Cross were given in memory of a First World War soldier Robert Wilford. In 1937 the church was transferred to the Diocese of Middlesbrough. The nave benches were replaced in 1952 and the side chapel was repaired at the same time, however refurbishment in the 1980s restored the side chapel to its original configuration. Vatican II alterations included the removal of alter rails, a pulpit and a wooden screen across the side chapel.
Details: Roman Catholic church, 1859-60 by Hadfield and Goldie (thought to be the work of Goldie). High Victorian Gothic style. MATERIALS: red brick with buff sandstone dressings and a welsh slate roof with iron crest and ornamental tiles. PLAN: the church is oriented north-south and the following directions are liturgical. Three-sided chancel and an aisleless nave with a north porch, behind which rises a large tiered bellcote; vestry and side chapel at the south east corner.
EXTERIOR: situated at the south end of Yarm High Street forming a visual closure to the town. The buff sandstone dressings are used polychromatically especially to the nave window heads and the arch to the porch and form bands to all elevations. The chancel is polygonal, each side pierced by triple lancets set within recessed square panels with dentil tops. The nave is separated from the chancel by a buttress; the former has a brick plinth with stone coping and is of four bays, the western most bay comprising a north porch with belfry rising above; the porch is buttressed and has a large pointed-arched entrance and the belfry is flush with the north nave wall and rises from a broad base with a recessed pointed arch through a series of offsets to an octagonal cap surmounted by a cross. The nave windows are flush with the nave walls and are pointed arched of two-lights with bar tracery. The window heads are alternating sandstone and brick and with sill, impost and eaves stone bands. A later C20 brick buttress supports the west end of the nave. The rear of the nave has a pair of identical windows and the lean-to side chapel with west and east windows similar to those of the nave but with segmental-pointed heads. A lean-to vestry is attached to the chapel with a tall chimney with a stone cap rising above. The west end has thin brick and stone corner buttresses and a large pointed-arched window of five lights with early decorated tracery.
INTERIOR: the walls are plain and painted and there is no structural division between the nave and the sanctuary; a panelled seven-sided roof covers the whole. The windows lighting the sanctuary have patterns of coloured and grisaille glass and each is flanked by foliated shafts and linked by a sill band which continues around the sanctuary wall to the left terminating in a foliated stop. The sanctuary wall to the right has a blind pointed arched and a pair of blind shoulder-arches with a hoodmould terminating in a foliated stop. The ornate reredos with integral stone altar is of Caen stone and considered to be original; it has a central tabernacle with painted decoration to the door. To either side there are square panels with censing angels. The altar front is inlaid with red and buff tiles. The side chapel has panelled walls to dado level and the rear wall bears a wooden altar front panel inscribed with the HIS monogram, said to be from a former altar in the Friary. Stations of the Cross on the nave walls are a C20 addition and the mid-C20 benches are simple with chamfered-off corners on the eastern faces. The west window has stained glass to the memory of Thomas Meynell who died in 1863.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: to the front of the church there is a low red brick wall with stone coping set with plain railings; at regular intervals there are rectangular pillars with multi-sides stone caps and a pedestrian gate to the north porch. These features contribute to the special interest of the church.
Other: “Churches in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough: An Architectural and Historical Review” Architectural History and Practice Ltd. March 2008
Architect: Hadfield & Goldie
Original Date: 1859
Conservation Area: Yes
Listed Grade: Grade II