St Pauls Anglican Church Waterhouses Durham UK.

Church History

 Above Post card: Dated Harvest Festival 1922.

St Pauls Church. Waterhouses Durham

A Short History & Guide By Norman Emery

1. The creation of a new village.

In the mid-1850's a Darlington Quaker, Joseph Pease, acquired permission to mine coal near High Waterhouse, a farm on the Brancepeth estate. The land was then owned by Gustavus Russell Hamilton- Russell, and his wife Emma Maria. The family could trace their ancestery back to Sir Frederick Hamilton of Dromahere, who had fought in Sweden, and raised six regiments in support of William III. For his exploits at the Boyne, Londondery and Athlone he was created Viscount Boyne in 1717. In 1866 Hamilton-Russell was created a peer, and took the title Baron Brancepeth.  The mining operations at High Waterhouse suffered initial difficulties, but Pease sinkers eventually reached coal, and a railway line was laid from a junction with the North Eastern Railway at Relly, up the Deerness valley, to the new pit. The company built houses for the new workers, and a "model village" grew up near the Mary pit, with private housing south of the railway line. Most of the new population was Durham born, or from surrounding northern counties, with  a few from the Midlands, the tin mines of Cornwall, the southern shires, and Ireland. By 1881 there were 1,053 people living in Waterhouses.

2. The Anglican Church at Waterhouses.

Anglican services were initially held in a room in an old cottage, probably near High Waterhouse Farm, where a school also operated. Around 1866 the rector of Brancepeth, Arthur Duncombe Shafto, proposed the building of a formal church and school, and in March of the following year he walked the four miles from Brancepeth to a concert in the cottage where funds were being raised for the project. Among those present at the concert was Thomas Douglas, head-viewer for the Pease mining operations in the area, and John George Crofton, the resident colliery manager (1).   In February 1868 Lord Boyne of Brancepeth Castle conveyed 1 rood and 20 perches of his estate at Waterhouses to the rector as a site for the new building (2). Lady Boyne contributed financially to the project, Pease company bricks were given, and a grant was also given from the Bishop's Special Church Building Fund. One of the provisions of the grant was the building to be used for worship, and not as a school. In late February 1869 the Bishop, with Rev. Shafto and two curates in attendance, opened the building, as a chapel of ease to Brancepeth (3). The cost was five hundred and eighty pounds. In 1877 and 1878 agreements were drawn enabling Rev. Shafto to sell the mineral rights under the Brancepeth glebe land to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for twelve thousand pounds. This money was to be invested in public stocks, and the dividend applied for the purpose of a common fund of St. John's, Brandon, and a proposed new district at Waterhouses. These measures were confirmed by Queen Victoria in Council at Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight, In August 1878 (4). On the 14th. of August 1879 the boundries of this district, under the patronage of the rector, were formally gazetted (5). In the following month the site and fabric was conveyed by deed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, but at this time the structure was not regarded as suitable as a parish church (6). Following further building work, the first minister, C.H. Barton, along with the churchwardens and parishoners petitioned the Bishop in September 1883 to consecrate the structure. In December Bishop Joseph Barber wrote "We do openly and publically pronounce, decree, and declare that the said new church shall be called 'St. Paul's, Waterhouses". And we do openly and publically pronounce, decree, and declare that the said new church shall be so assigned, seperated, dedicated and consecrated for ever by this our definite sentance and final decree..." (7) The nearby village Esh Winning had been provided with a mission-church in 1873, and was ministered from Esh. However, in the period 1905-9, Rev Henry Davies of Esh began negotiations for the ceding of the mission to Waterhouses (8). These moves were ultimately successful, and agreed to by the King in Council, at Buckingham Palace, in May 1911 (9).


3. The Church, Vicarage, and Grounds.

The original late 1860's chapel of ease was designed by C.Hodgson Fowler, and built by R. Sanderson. It comprised a nave and chancel of cavity wall construction using slightly sulphur coloured machine pressed bricks bearing the 'PEASE' stamp, set on a sandstone foundation course, the whole supported by a number of buttresses. At that time the nave contained benches to seat 200 worshippers, and the west end was a font comprising a lead- lined circular bowl with dog tooth decoration, and a sturdy turned stem set on a solid circular plinth. To the north of the chancel was a small connecting vestry (or ane-chapel), with a porch on the south side. The chancel was lit by 3 lancet windows in an enclosing arch, while coupled small lancets in the long wall lit the nave. The chancel was separated from the nave by a tall wooden screen. In June 1882 plans by Fowler were submitted to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for enlargement, and the work was completed by November 1883 (10). A west extension was made, in a whiter brick, producing an entrance lobby and sacristy, these being devided from the nave of the church by a timber partition of hollow chamfered muntins, rails, and end stiles, forming a frame varnished vertical planking. This framework supported 16 beams, producing a slightly jettied gallery, designed to seat 54 children of the congregation. The gallery was reached by a winder staircase, and was lit, along with the body the church, by 3 lancets and an upper rose window. A coke fired central heating system was installed in the cellar, with a flue running up through the west gable. Other structural changes occured in the 1890's. The entry from the south porch, by the chancel, into the nave, was blocked, and a small organ placed in the corner in 1892 (11). This left only one means of access to the church, and the fear of fire led to the insertion of an outer door in the north vestry in 1897 (12). Also, in 1894, a small choir vestry was constructed (13). This projected out northward from the sacristy, its east side incorporating one of the old buttresses. At the same time alterations were made to the gallery, providing raised seating. Between 1895 and 1915 a new aisle was built on the north side (14). This extended from the choir vestry to the north side vestry. Its construction involved the demolition of the north nave wall, and the provision of an arcade of four arches supported by cast concrete pillars, with square imposts. Four coupled lancets lit this new aisle, and a door was inserted to provide access to the choir vestry. The aisle has a mono pitched roof compromising 3 rafters and a single purlin supporting sarking boards with Welsh slates. Into the east end of the side side aisle was placed an organ, whose console projected into the choir area through the end arch. This was a fine example of a Vincent (Sunderland) organ, with pneumatic pedal action, and two manual tracker action. The organ was probably made around 1902, though it ( or at least the pipes ) was second hand when it was set up in the church. It replaced the organ on the south side, and a pulpit was set up in its place. A pitch pine lectern was also placed near the new organ. Rev. Barton, who had been vicar at Waterhouses until 1890, moved to Harbledown in Kent. In 1907 he, and his wife Isablella, presented a wooden cover for the font, bearing the figures of Christ and St. Paul, and the words "Suffer the little children to come to me ". By the 1920's the main structure of the church  was complete; consisting of an entrance lobby, sacristy, choir vestry, nave and side aisle, chancel and flanking ante-chapel and a small disused porch. The roof was a composite structure of 4 trusses, comprising principal rafters, scissor braces, and horizontal and vertical metal ties. Trenched into backs of the principals were 2 levels of purlins, against which were laid common rafters, with ashlaring. On to this was either sealed battens or boards, and Welsh slates. The ridge was surmounted by belfrey containing one bell, and a fleche. The seating provided in the nave, side aisle, and choir was benches with panelled backs, chamfered top-rails, and shaped bench ends, each decorated with round lobed refoil. By 1920 a scroll bearing the motto "Reverence my Sanctuary" was painted over the chancel arch. In 1920 the plain glass of the east window was removed and replaced with stain glass, the design based on the theme "I am the Resurrection and the Life ". At the same time a memorial plaque commemorating those who had fallen in the Great War was set up behind the pulpit; and a brass eagle lectern was acquired to replace the wooden stand. The three hundred pound cost of these undertakings was raised by subscription (15). In 1927 Mr. and Mrs. Button presented a chalice to St Paul's (16). In the 1930's, and in subsequent decades, the church received further decoration and furnishings. A plain 3 -stepped Latin Calvary cross was presented in memory of the second vicar of Waterhouses, George William Smith, who died in 1924, and his wife Anne Elizabeth Smith. The cross was later converted to a crucifix. The altar candlesticks were presented by Mr. and Mrs. E.D. Wharton, to commemorate their silver wedding in August 1934. In the following year the Mothers Union presented a bishops chair to the church. In the late 1936 or 1937 stained glass was placed in the middle window of the S. Nave wall. with an accompanying small plaque. This was a memorial raised by the Pallister family for their parents, John (1855-1935) and Catherine (1855-1929). The work was produced by craftsmen of the Newcastle firm Reed, Millican & Co. Ltd. (17). Following the Second World War a further memorial plaque was set up on the N.side of the chancel arch in 1950 (18). In 1957 the offertory plate was given in memory of Mr. F. Wilks (19). The British legion standards were placed in the church after the closure of the Waterhouses Mens Section around 1957 (20), and the Esh Winning Mens Section, a few years earlier. A Mothers Union branch was established at Waterhouses in 1924, and a banner was acquired. This was replaced, in the 1960's, by the present banner showing the Virgin and Child (21). Possibly in the 1960's, although there is some doubt, the pulpit was moved from the S. side of the choir to its present position (22).Two priests desks, given as gifts, were set up within the choir area. One on the S. side was presented in memory of Edward and Lydia Wharton; that on the N. side to the memory of Joseph and Hannah Bentley. The wardens wands were given by Mrs. Eleanor Gent in memory of her husband George, a P.C.C. vice-chairman, who died in 1974. In 1985 Rev. Michael Wilkinson established the side aisle as a lady chapel, with its own altar. At the same time an aumbry was inserted in the N. chancel wall. Other fittings added to the church in the 1980's included a  holy water stoop, a bell, hymn boards, a silver chalice and paten, the latter given in memory of John William Henery (1906-79), and his wife Elizabeth (1914-87) by their family. In late 1988 the church underwent a major restoration, including the provision of a new slate roof cover. Also, the high altar was brought forward from the E. wall. On the 22nd November 1989 the church was re-dedicated by the Bishop of Jarrow, and the Lady Chapel was also dedicated to the memory of Rev. Wilkinson, who died on the 17th. November 1987 ("Thou art a priest forever"). A figure of the Virgin and Child was set up in the chapel in October 1989. Outside the church, a mission hall/Sunday school was built of wood covered with corrugated galvanised iron in 1891. This type of cladding was inceasingly being used on buildings in the late 19th.C., such as temporary schools (Esh Winning colliery, Ushaw Moor), chapels (Lymington, East Hedleyhope), and mission churches or chapels of ease (Binchester). The 1889 Year Book of the Church of England said that such buildings were "tasteful in design, economical, durable...can be taken down, removed and re-erected at a small cost". Prior to 1891 the Waterhouses Sunday school was held in the church, when the average attendance was 180. The hall extended around the turn of the century, and is still in use. There were proposals for a cemetery by the church, and Lord Boyne was prepared to allocate land for this purpose, but throughout 1879 a series of heated public meetings, which included discussions on the burial of dissenters, led to the establishment of a Local Board cemetery for the district near Ridding Wood. The first vicar resided in the house in Deerness Place. Waterhouses, but later, money was raised by subscription to build a spacious vicarage close by in 1887. The decline of coal mining in the valley resulted in the County Development Plan catergorising Waterhouses as a D-village, whos population was expected to move away once the pit closed. Esh Winning a viable A-village, was to expand and receive people from the D- villages. Waterhouses colliery closed in 1966, and the colliery supplied housing was demolished in the early 1970's. Waterhouses vicarage was vacated, and a new one was built at the main centre of population in Esh Winning in 1978.

4. Vicars of St. Pauls Waterhouses:

  • Charles Hairby Barton 1879.
  • George William Smith 1890.   
  • Charles Hubert Claughton Kenny Kirk 1908.
  • Nathaniels John Burgess 1928.
  • Ernest Moody 1959.
  • Beverly Charles Johnson 1971.
  • Michael John Wilkinson 1981.
  • Paul J.A. Kennedy 1988.

5     References:

Abbreviations-DC= Durham Chronicle, DCRO Durham County Record Office.

Pal. & Dip. = Department of Palaegraphy and Diplomatic,

Durham University.

1   DC  1  3  1867

2  Durham Diocesan Board of Financem Auckland Castle, indenture 8 2 1868

3  DC  5  3  1869

4 Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England  31st Report 1879, 263-6

5 Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England 32nd Report 1880, 213-6

6  Waterhouses Parish Magazine, July 1937

7. Pal & Dip Sentence of Consecration St Paul's, Waterhouses,  1  12  1883

8 Wiggen, WR 1914 Esh Leaves (Durham)

9 DCRC   D/MRP  48/5

10  Plan of enlargement, St Paul's

11 The Waterhouses Church Monthly, September 1892

12 Waterhouses Parochial Magazine, October 1897

13 Waterhouses Parochial Magazine, February 1984

14 OS sheet 26.5 2nd ed 1897 (rev 1895) and 3rd ed  1919 (rev 1915)

15  Pal & Dip DDR Faculty paper  2642

 16  Mr. H Wharton, pers inf

17  Pal & Dip DDR Faculty paper 2642

18   Pal & Dip DDR Faculty paper 3313

19  Mr. H Wharton, pers inf

20 British Legion Waterhouses Mens Section Minute Book, 5 11 49 - 28 10 1957,  in possession of Mr. E. Yates, Mrs Briery, pers comm

21 Mrs M Yates, pers comm

22 The pulpit is shown in an illustration in Waterhouses Parish Magazine of October 1958, though this may simply be a repeated picture used for the magazine, it may have moved in the late 1940's.



Upcoming Events

Sunday, May 26 at 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM
Wednesday, May 29 at 5:00 AM - 6:15 PM
Sunday, Jun 2 at 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM
Wednesday, Jun 5 at 5:00 AM - 6:15 PM