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St Andrew’s Church, Roker

Tyne and Wear

Architecture

We tend to think of suburbs as safe, rather conservative places, but St Andrew’s Church, built in the rising middle-class suburb of Roker in 1908, doesn’t fit that description. It’s radical, innovative, and one of the most adventurous churches of its date in the country.

At one level, it’s an Arts and Crafts building in a sort of stripped-down, highly original re-invention of gothic. It’s built of local Marsden limestone and the decoration is purest Arts and Crafts too. There is a beautiful tapestry by Burne Jones, vivid stained glass, exquisite metalwork by Ernest Gimson and strong, simple and perfectly made woodwork throughout.

But the church is more than an Arts and Crafts design. The architect, Edward Prior, was a very radical man and the interior is extraordinarily forward-looking, an astonishing space formed by a succession of vast, parabolic arches, clad in stone, but made of reinforced concrete.

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