St Cuthbert's RC Church in Durham safe for generations to come

Published: Thursday, February 20, 2014


A seven-month refurbishment project, part funded by the National Churches Trust, has been successfully completed.

Work to the church included major repairs to the sandstone stonework and the restoration of a stained-glass window by Irish artist Harry Clarke.

Father Benjamin Earl, parish priest, said: “We have a certain satisfaction that we have succeeded in preserving this for our lifetimes – and not just saving a beautiful building but one which is the basis for a community."

The central parish church

St Cuthbert's opened in 1827 and was the first Roman Catholic church built in Durham. It was designed, principally in sandstone, by Ignatius Bonomi; although the tower was added later in 1869. St Cuthbert's, opposite the Courthouse, forms one side of the triangular Elvet Green Conservation Area. The fine memorial window in the south wall of the nave has stained glass by Harry Clarke Studios, Dublin, dating from 1930.

St Cuthbert's is the central parish church for the Roman Catholic community in Durham, serving local residents as well as students because it is also the Catholic chaplaincy for the University. Three other Catholic parishes are effectively "daughter" parishes of St Cuthbert's; they sprang up as the population grew and the city developed over the last two centuries.

The parish is a very inclusive community. There are pastoral and educational activities and support for the sick, bereaved, imprisoned, ex-offenders and deprived, as well as social activities to enrich community life. The parish also provides help and outreach to the homeless and refugees.

The £300,000 repair work has been funded by English Heritage, the National Churches Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation and others organisations. Some £46,000 must still be raised.

The National Churches Trust relies solely on the generosity of our supporters to fund our work. Last year we helped to rescue over 140 churches. If you would like to help us save more of the UK's churches, chapels and meeting houses, you can support us by becoming a Friend or making a donation. 

Visit our Support Our Work pages for more information

Alison Pollard, Grants and Local Trusts Manager for the National Churches Trust said: "We were delighted to help St Cuthbert's with a grant to help fund major repairs. The church is a key Roman Catholic church in the area, important to the diocese and Patrimony Committee as well as to the local Catholic population and students. The repair work has helped to save the church for future generations and will encourage greater use and also visits by people interested in discovering the beauty and history of this fine 19th Century church."

St Cuthbert's Church website