Mission Church, Sunderland Point


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Statutory Address:
The Lane, Sunderland Point, Morecambe, Lancashire, LA3 3HS


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Statutory Address:
The Lane, Sunderland Point, Morecambe, Lancashire, LA3 3HS

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

Location Description:
Lancaster (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


Mission Church, 1894 to designs by Paley, Austen and Paley.

Reasons for Designation

The Sunderland Point mission church of 1894 is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* a modest yet characterful design constructed of local materials, which displays a level of detailing above the norm for a church of this type; * it is largely intact and remains much as constructed, with only very minor alterations; * it compares favourably with numerous listed mission churches of a similar date.

Historic interest:

* a product of Paley, Austin and Paley, one of the most remarkable architectural firms of the C19, which stands testimony to the broad range of the practice's portfolio; * it illustrates the process of spreading the Church of England mission to new areas, including remote coastal locations, during the second half of the C19 and early C20.

Group value:

* it benefits from a spatial group value with numerous listed buildings within this small, coastal village.


The C19 saw an expansion in the numbers of those attending both established churches and non-conformist places of worship. The Church of England embarked on a building programme, and especially in areas where there was no existing parish, these new churches were often known as mission churches. It is unclear why a mission church was constructed at Sunderland Point, but it is probably related to the fact that the small historic fishing community on the Lune Estuary was cut off at high tide from the rest of the peninsula, making regular church-going elsewhere problematic.

An indenture dated 19 September 1894 records the conveying of two small parcels of land (222 square yards) on the west side of what is now The Lane, to the Trustees of Overton Parochial Building for the sum of £10. The 'Parochial Building' was to be primarily a church, with the possibility of other functions including a school, Sunday school, a teachers' residence and a venue for the holding of various meetings and lectures. One of the signatories to the conveyance for the Trustees was Harry Anderson Paley of the architectural firm Paley, Austin and Paley.

The church was built to the designs of Paley, Austin & Paley of Lancaster, and the contractors were Messrs Willis Bros of Morecambe. It was constructed with brick cavity walls infilled with Tenax patent asphalte in an attempt to waterproof the building in its exposed location. The Lancaster Guardian for the 9 November 1894 describes the church as accommodating about 150 people, who had previously participated in services held within a room in the village when the weather permitted. The internal walls were originally of exposed red brick. The cost of building was about £250, raised by grants and subscriptions. It was intended to hold a regular service on a Sunday afternoon and parish meetings during the week. The opening service saw a large attendance including people from Overton and Heysham. Prayers were led by Rev W J Locke and Rev John Bone, and Mrs Locke played the harmonium.

The Austin & Paley architectural firm was founded by Edmund Sharpe (1809-1877), who took into partnership E G Paley (1823-1895) in 1845. Sharpe retired in 1851, and E G Paley practiced alone until taking in H J Austin in 1868 and the firm became Paley & Austin. Paley's son Harry Anderson Paley joined in about 1886 when the firm became Paley, Austin & Paley until Paley senior died in 1895, and the firm operated as Austin & Paley into the 1930s. Much of the highly-regarded firm's work is considered outstanding in both a regional and a national context, especially during the period from about 1870 to 1910 when it is linked with a wealth of fine churches of diverse nature. In the 1890s when it was building what is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces of the late C19 and early C20, St George, Stockport, it was also 'running up' the red brick mission church for £250 at Sunderland Point. The firm has been described as one of England's most remarkable architectural practices.


Mission Church, 1894 to designs by Paley, Austen and Paley.

MATERIALS: local Claughton red brick with a Wesmorland slate roof.

PLAN: the church is oriented north to south, but the following directions are liturgical. It is rectangular with a projecting north-west porch, a projecting north-east vestry recess, and a third projecting WC bay to the south-west corner. There is a west gabled bell canopy.

EXTERIOR: a five bay, single-storey building of red brick laid in stretcher bond beneath a pitched roof of Westmorland slate, that sweeps low over the projecting porch and vestry and WC in the form of lean-to roofs. Windows and door openings mostly have brick, camber heads. The west end has a central, projecting timber bell canopy that retains the bell, above an external, stepped brick chimney stack with tumbling-in brickwork. To the left is the main camber-headed entrance, and to the right is a secondary opening of similar style; both with plain boarded doors. The north elevation has projecting end bays, the porch to the right with a plain window beneath a stone lintel, and the vestry with a camber-headed entrance. The blind central bay is demarcated by a pair of slim pilasters, and a flanking bay to either side has a camber-headed window fitted with a six-light fixed timber window. The east end is rendered obscuring the brickwork, but there is a single camber-headed window. The south elevation is similarly detailed to the north elevation but only the westernmost bay is projecting, with a pair of short ventilation slits to its east wall.

INTERIOR: the porch has painted brick walls with three rows of coat hooks, and opens into the main body of the church through double boarded doors. There is a timber baffle screen to the left, and horizontal wainscoting to the lower parts of the walls, which are painted brick above, and there is a boarded floor. The original stove to the west end has been removed but its semi-circular opening remains. At the east end there is a raised dais with an altar and timber rails to the front; the wainscoting raises above the altar table, and above this is a large camber-headed timber panel. The roof structure comprises four triangular tie-beam trusses supported by cast-iron struts. The small vestry niche to the left has wainscotted walls.


Books and journals
Brandwood, G, The Architecture of Sharpe Paley and Austin, (2012), 4, 139, 141, 241
Hartwell, C, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England: Lancashire North, (2009), 662
The Lancaster Guardian: account of the opening of the mission church on Sunderland Point, Nov 1894, accessed 30-07-2019 from https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001673/18941110/083/0007
Indenture for the conveyance of a plot of land for a Parochial Building at Sunderland Point, 1894. The National Archives: PR 3273/4/6


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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