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English Church Architecture -

Stockton-on-Tees (U.A.).


THORNABY-ON-TEES, St. Paul (NZ 451 176)     (May 2018)

(Bedrock:  Triassic Sherwood Sandstone Group, undifferentiated sandstones)


This is a large, plain church by Mallinson and Healey, constructed 1857/58 on a site donated by Lord Harewood (Thornaby-on-Tees: the Anglican Churches, 1993), although the tower remained a mere stump until completed by Thomas Henry and Francis Healey in 1897, to whose designs is not  clear.  The original builder was Henry Pratt and the clerk-of-the-works, Daniel Kershaw, who  both travelled up from Halifax and must presumably have lodged here.  A major subsequent alteration to the building, and one not to the better, was made in 1964 when, allegedly as a result of subsidence, the chancel was reduced to a single bay in a manner of which the Ecclesiologists would certainly not have approved.


St. Pauls now consists, therefore, of a five-bay nave (74’ long by 54’ wide) with independently-gabled aisles and a S. porch, a chancel with an adjoining S. chapel (also, of course, of a single bay), and a tower adjoining the N. aisle to the northeast and rising in three stages to battlements supported by diagonal buttresses.  Perhaps most striking outside is the line of three gables comprising the W. front (shown above left), although the tower is impressive also with its three-light bell-openings with castellated transoms, outer lights subarcuated above trilobes, and a wheel of three trilobes in the head (illustrated right).  A corbel table formed of blank trefoil-cusped arches and a band of fleurons separate the bell-stage from the slightly projecting battlements with obelisk-type pinnacles at the angles.  The stone used for all parts of the building came from the local Shaw Bank Quarry (Thornaby-on-Tees: the Anglican Churches).


Windows everywhere have geometrical tracery, as is usual at this period, and as is often the case with Mallinson and Healey, the aisle windows adopt two different forms used alternately, both  three-light but one with two daggers and a pointed quatrefoil in the head and the other with two regular quatrefoils and a pointed quatrefoil.  The N. aisle W. window is hidden to internal view behind the organ but from the outside can be seen to be the same as its three-light southern counterpart with two trefoils and a sexfoil in the head.  The four-light W. window to the nave has quatrefoils above the outer lights and a wheel of four trilobes in the apex, while at the other end of the church, the five-light chancel E. windows has outer lights subarcuated in pairs above cinquefoils and three quatrefoils in a circle above and between.


Inside the church, the nave arcades are formed of double-flat-chamfered arches supported on octagonal piers with prominent capitals.  The arch from the S. aisle to the chapel carries two flat chamfers that die into the jambs and the arch between the chapel and the chancel is also double-flat-chamfered but borne on semi-octagonal responds.  The double-flat-chamfered arch from the N. aisle to the tower has been partially blocked and a small door leading to the vestry, inserted instead. The nave and aisle roofs are each of collar-beam construction with purlins one third and two thirds of the way up the pitch in the former case and at the halfway stage in the latter.  The collars support arched braces curving up to the principal rafters. (The nave roof is shown left.)   


There is very little else.  The benches are plain but survive in their entirety (i.e. on both sides of the central passages running down the nave and aisles).  The pulpit is hexagonal with simple tracery on the sides of the drum, again displaying two designs alternately.  Mallinson and Healey’s churches offer few features that are reliably characteristic but this alternation of designs comes as close as any.  (Cf., for example, Boroughbridge and Cundall (both North Yorkshire) and Dewsbury and Thornhill Lees (both Kirklees). )