Church of St Edward


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Coquet Avenue, Whitley Bay, North Tyneside


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Statutory Address:
Coquet Avenue, Whitley Bay, North Tyneside

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Tyneside (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Church, Roman Catholic, 1926-8 to the 1921 designs of Stienlet & Maxwell. Built by Henry Kelly & Co, reordered in the 1980s by Jack Lynn. Modernised Romanesque style. The plain and altered adjacent presbytery, attached to the church by brick walls is not of special interest.

Reasons for Designation

St Edward’s Roman Catholic Church, 1926-8 to the 1921 designs of Stienlet & Maxwell of Newcastle is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: a striking Romanesque design that blends German and Italian Romanesque elements to successful effect. * Composition: it incorporates elements of varying height and scale, which maximise its location on a corner site where it forms a prominent local landmark. * Interior quality: a spacious and well-lit interior derived from a high quality design and skilful use of materials and detailing * Intactness: an intact exterior, and despite some inevitable minor re-ordering of the sanctuary, a largely intact interior, which retains its original architectural detailing in addition to original fixtures. * Architect: Stienlet & Maxwell are a notable firm of architects whose skill is reflected in the architectural quality of this church.


After the expansion of Whitley Bay in the early C20, a new Catholic Church was required to replace the existing smaller church. St Edward was designed in 1921 by Pascal J. Stienlet & J. C. Maxwell of Newcastle, and built by Henry Kelly & Co. It was opened by Bishop Thorman on 23rd April 1928 and the estimated cost of the finished and fitted out church and its adjoining presbytery was £13,600. A painted Descent from the Cross was added to the west-facing panel of the organ case in 1945 as a memorial to parishioners and members of the Tyneside Irish Regiment who fell in the First World War.

In the late 1980s, the church was reordered by Architect Jack Lynn, which included reordering the sanctuary and rebuilding the altar; the latter was carved by R Widowfield to Jack Lynn’s designs using new and reused marble. A little later, a new narthex was added at the southwest corner of the church. The renovated church was blessed and dedicated by Bishop Lindsey in 1988. Stained glass by local artist Paul Gannon was inserted in the windows between 1988 and 2007.

Stienlet & Maxwell was a notable inter-war architectural practice based in Saville Row, Newcastle upon Tyne. Pascal Stienlet was also a noted cinema architect and two of his designs, Abbeydale Picture House, Sheffield (1920) and Majestic Cinema, Leeds (1921), are listed Grade II as is his re-fronting of Westgate House, Kirklees (1923)


MATERIALS: rusticated purplish/dark red Ravenhead bricks with darker brick dressings and dark red roof tiles. Red sandstone dressings to main entrances.

PLAN: the church occupies a prominent corner site with the ritual west front facing true northeast; the ritual orientation is used in this description. A short apsidal sanctuary with an external ambulatory links to a pair of pitched roofed sacristies and the adjacent presbytery. There are tall transepts and a crossing with an octagonal lantern over. The aisled nave has a west narthex, a south porch, and a later, north narthex.

EXTERIOR: there is a Lombard frieze and dentilled cornice to the exterior walls and all openings are mostly recessed with round-arched heads. There are corner corbels to some areas and raised brick crosses in relief. The apse has five small round windows below a semi-conical roof. The transepts have two tiers of three lights, and there is a pyramidal roof over the low octagonal crossing tower, which has three small lights in each face, above four roofed arms linking the rest of the building to the tower. The four-bay nave has pent aisles and paired lights in the aisles and clerestory. The south porch has double-boarded doors between red sandstone columns with Romanesque capitals and a carved arch inscribed with interlace decoration; the brick surround has strings at impost and capital-base level. A flat-roofed narthex at the north west has blind, arched panels and provides the present entrance to the church; a recent pergola extends from the north sacristy to the adjacent presbytery. Beneath the three-light west window there is a pent western narthex, with bands of tile in the form of a Lombard frieze, flanked by full-height polygonal towers with narrow lights set in long panels. Stone steps lead to an entrance similarly detailed to that of the south porch.

INTERIOR: The rusticated brick surfaces are painted throughout, with the exception of the cornices, arcades, transept and chancel arches and the lower transverse arches in the narrow aisles. The re-ordered sanctuary has three steps to the forward marble altar, which incorporates re-used elements from the original high alter, and further steps to the Tabernacle within the apse. The apse has painted walls and a ribbed dome resting on a brick cornice; the ribs are carried down to the floor in the form of pilasters. The lower sanctuary walls have plain plaster panelling and two triple sedilia, with large panelled openings to either side. A large Crucifix is suspended from the apse ceiling. An opening within an arch either side of the chancel arch leads into a sacristy. The original organ is housed within the north transept, whose west-facing panel has a First World War memorial in the form of a painted Descent from the Cross; to the right of this is the Roll of Honour. Each transept has a large arched niche in the east wall containing a doorway into a sacristy; the undersides of the niches are decorated with incised cross motifs. The crossing has a ribbed dome supported on squinches, linked by a brick arcade. The narrow aisled nave has a full compliment of original benches separated by a central aisle; the arcades are supported on square columns with moulded capitals, and affixed to the aisle walls are The Stations of the Cross. The roof is a ribbed barrel-vault, which has cross vaults to the clerestory windows. Below the three-light west window there is gallery supported on triple arches with the main west entrance below flanked by niches.

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 30 October 2017.


Books and journals
Grundy, J, McCombie, G, Ryder, P, Welfare, , , H, The Buildings of England: Northumberland, (2002), p.625
War Memorials Register, accessed 30 October 2017 from
War Memorials Register, accessed 30 October 2017 from
The Architectural History Practice, St Edward, Whitley Bay, 2012,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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