Moments in a minor key

By Dcred

St Augustine’s Church

Spent my day in a meeting in Darlington, did hope to get into the town at lunchtime to find a few places to photograph but time was against me so this is all I'v got, a brief history to follow.

St Augustine’s Church
The land for the building of the church was bought in June 1825. On the 17th of that month a plot of land which was part of Green Tree Field, 72ft by 45ft, was purchased by Thomas Penswick, John Yates and William Hogarth. The price was £55, and the joint vendors were Harry Vane, Earl of Darlington and Henry, Viscount Barnard. This plot was the first in a series of purchases which were clearly deliberate and part of a strategy designed to take over the whole of the corner of what is now Coniscliffe Road and Larchfield Street.
The original plans and subscription list are missing, the church building must have started early in 1826. The building, designed by Ignatius Bonomi, measured 70ft by 40 ft. It was built of limestone roofed with Westmoreland slates. Its design is described in most works of reference as ‘debased Gothic’. The building work progressed rapidly and by April 1827 William Hogarth wrote to Bishop Smith to tell him that he had decided to have his new chapel named ‘in the style and title of St Augustine’s and invited the bishop to perform the opening ceremony on 29 May 1827. The opening was heralded by a notice in the Catholic Press where it was mentioned that the dedication sermon would be preached by the Rev. Richard Gillow, professor of Elocution at Ushaw College, a young gentleman ‘of great attainments’. The event was carried off in great solemnity in front of a congregation of citizens of the town. A collection raised over £31 which went towards the building fund. Reference to the 1851 Ordnance Survey of Darlington shows that chapel as being capable of having 450 seats of which 150 were free. In the October the chapel was registered at the Durham Quarter Sessions as a place of worship for Catholics. A major landmark in the history of Darlington’s Catholics had been reached.

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