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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:
Church, boundary wall, gates & railings.

Date of Construction:
1880 - 1899

Address :
St Patrick's Church Church Street Coleraine Co. Londonderry BT52 1AR

Coleraine & suburbs

Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
25/05/1976 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
C8497 3248

Owner Category

Church - C of I

Exterior Description And Setting

A freestanding, Perpendicular-Gothic-style black-stone church, which is dominated by a four-stage pinnacled-tower to the south-west corner and comprises a nave, chancel, transepts and side aisles. Founded as an ecclesiastical site during the 5th century, the previous 17th century building was extended c.1851 and extensively remodelled in 1884, to the designs of Thomas Drew. Cruciform plan with small 19th century additions to the western re-entrant angles and a further Choir vestry to the north-west corner, c.1960, executed in a similar style to the main church. Pitched saddle-back slate roofs throughout (large number of replacements) with roll-moulded terracotta ridge-tiles; generally pyramidal or flat stone copings to gables with kneelers; elaborate stone cross finials to apex of nave, chancel and southern porch. Largely replacement metal ogee rainwater goods with a mix of squared and rounded downpipes, mounted on moulded stone course to projecting eaves, punctuated by stone console brackets to nave (mostly replacement). Walling is generally roughly coursed, rock-faced blackstone with smooth ashlar sandstone dressings; the tower is of random, rough-faced ashlar; east wall of south transept is of uncoursed random rubble. Flush strip-quoins to corners and full projecting base-course topped by chamfered sandstone coping. The windows are generally lead-paned stained-glass with perpendicular tracery and cusped heads; much tracery has undergone recent repairs/replacement. The aisles are lighted by tripartite cusped-headed square openings with labels and coiled stops; similar two-light clerestory windows above having pointed-arched heads and foiled tracery. Windows lighting the nave and transepts are generally four-lights with pointed-arched heads, splayed reveals having flush stepped architraves and labels with coiled or figurative stops; similar five-light window to nave. Doors are generally pointed-arched timber sheeted and braced replicas with original ironmongery and studs affixed; recessed and encased within in-stepped surrounds, label or hoods moulds with sculpted stops over; foliated carvings to architrave of central porch on south elevation. North-west single-storey gabled extension, c.1960 is executed in style similar to the north aisle but it is of little interest. Square-based four-stage tower abutting to south-west corner with set-back, offset angled buttresses rising to third stage belfry. Large pointed-arched opening to south side having ornate foliated carvings to spandrels and angelic busts to stops; late 20th century plain timber and glazed door with similar transom and sidelights (of no interest). Projecting string-course rising to second stage which has three-light pointed-arched window directly above. Each face of third stage contains a pair of two-light pointed-arched openings with timber louvers and quatrefoils spanning centre; engaged and angled buttresses rising to points at far sides; blind cross beneath on western elevation. Square-based crocketted-pinnacles with cusped panels to four corners, rising to foliated points; square-headed and cusped crenellations span between pinnacles over heavily moulded eaves containing foliated consoles; large angled bracket to centre which extends to a point above crenellations. Angelic and gargoyle figures project out at four corners carrying water spouts above. Pinnacles have been braced in recent decades. The principal elevation faces south and comprises the double-height nave lit by four clerestory windows above advancing mono-pitched south aisle lighted by three windows. Projecting gabled entrance porch to right-of-centre with angled buttressing, quatrefoils, cusped adornment of pediment featuring foliated and armorial carvings; lattice paned square-headed single light window to right-cheek. Far right abutted by gabled south transept with window to centre; right-cheek abutted by lean-to side chapel having diminutive window to south elevation and single-light cusped-and-pointed-arched window to east elevation and timber sheeted basement door below. Far left side of south elevation abutted by tower. West elevation contains large four-light window to gable; right-side abutted by tower; left-side abutted by advancing mid 20th century gabled extension, four openings wide with central windows to both cheeks; west elevation has central doorcase with a window to each side (of no interest). North elevation is similar to south, with four windows at each level; left-side abutted by twin-gabled north transept which contains a four-light and a three-light window to the left and right respectively. Diminutive pointed window over left; part of round-headed brick arch remains at ground level to right-side East elevation is completely abutted by the lower chancel; north gable-head has been modified with a sandstone and rendered chimney inserted. Chancel contains large five-light window to centre with octagonal stops; twin-light pointed window to left-cheek with foiled head. Right-cheek is blank and abutted by mono-pitched return (vestry) having pointed doorway and squared, single-light window to east and three pointed windows to north; small mono-pitched addition to north-west re-entrant angle with a timber framed leaded window to centre; the extension arches over stepped passageway leading to timber sheeted and braced basement door containing strap hinges and vent holes. Setting Located within the urban centre of Coleraine town, the large tower dominates the surrounding area. Sited within a raised graveyard, which contains a number of historic memorials, the building is set back from the main thoroughfare of Church Street, in a mature
setting. The south and south-west sides have a painted/rendered saddle-back wall topped with decorative cast-iron railings, the remainder of the site is bounded by a coursed rubblestone wall. Primary access is via the main cast-iron gates on Church Street which are supported by a pair of squared sandstone piers, surmounted with stepped coping and ornate lamps, with a small pedestrian gate to the left. The ground descends to the north where Anderson Park is located. Roof: Replacement slate Walling: Rock faced blackstone and ashlar sandstone Windows: Leaded stained glass with perpendicular sandstone tracery RWG: Replacement metal ogee


Drew, Thomas

Historical Information

The parish church of Coleraine is situated on a site of considerable antiquity which has supported a church since at least the early medieval period. The current church building is largely of late Victorian date (1883-5), although some eighteenth century and earlier fabric has been retained. St Patrick’s church was traditionally established by St Patrick himself who is said, in one of his biographies, to have been offered the site of a church on the north bank of the Bann and to have chosen a spot covered in ferns, giving rise to the name ‘Cuil Raithin’ or ‘ferny retreat’ (Belfast Newsletter). Whether this tradition has foundation or not, certainly by the early middle ages there was a church, a Dominican monastery and a settled community at Coleraine (Sturdy). Physical evidence of an early church on the site was uncovered during excavations in 1994 when the foundations of a probable fourteenth century building were discovered and can still be viewed through a panel set in the floor of the north aisle (Sturdy). The church at this time would have consisted of a simple nave about 140 feet long and 30 feet wide (Sturdy) but the foundations of a still older church, reported in the Belfast Newsletter in 1885, are said to have been uncovered in the renovations of the 1880s extending eastwards some feet beyond the present chancel. In the early seventeenth century Coleraine was laid out as a fortified town, having been granted by the crown to the Honourable the Irish Society. St Patrick’s Church, which was then in a state of disrepair, was rebuilt by the Irish Society in the early seventeenth century and is shown on Carey’s 1611 plan with ‘new roof and walls repayred’. Some of the seventeenth century structure of the church was also uncovered in the recent excavations (Sturdy). A weathered block of sandstone on the north wall is said to bear the marks of a cannonball fired during the 1641 rebellion (Walker). A tower surmounted by a spire was built in 1719 and a south transept in the 1770s and the church is depicted in the 1816 ‘Book of Coleraine’ with a slender tower and spire, nave, transept and porch (Belfast Newsletter; Sturdy). This building is shown on the first (1830) and second (1849-50) editions of the Ordnance Survey and the church is listed in the Townland Valuation (1828-40) at £22.15s.4d with dimensions given for a watch house, porch, steeple, transept and nave. In 1851 Joseph Welland, architect to the ecclesiastical commissioners, drew up designs for extending the church by adding a north transept, chancel and robing room and a new south aisle with porch. These changes are recorded in the dimensions given in Griffith’s Valuation (1856-64) and in a photograph of the church before its restoration in the 1880s ( Griffith’s Valuation lists the church at £58 and the graveyard at £2, but despite the later renovations no changes in valuation were made until the 1930s. In 1875 further modifications were carried out to designs by James H Coyle including a new organ chamber, vestry, heating system, floor tiles – stone flags were replaced by Maw’s encaustic tiles - and redecoration. The contractor was D Christie of Coleraine and the redecoration was carried out by Messrs J & D Baxter. A new organ built by Messrs Foster and Andrews of Hull was installed and the total cost was £1,150 (Belfast Newsletter) By 1883 it was felt that the church was too small to meet the needs of an increasing congregation and that parts of the fabric were beginning to decay (Belfast Newsletter). The rector Henry Stewart O’Hara wanted the church to be worthy of its position in the town and the diocese and felt that its reconstruction would help to restore the battered morale of the church following disestablishment (Sturdy). The architect Thomas Drew was appointed to carry out the ‘virtual rebuilding of the church, retaining, however, as far as it is possible to trace them, the lines of the ancient structure’ (Belfast Newsletter). The cost totalled £7,400 and the contractors were Messrs Dixon & Co of Belfast. The church was given a new tower, north aisle, south porch and chancel and the height of the nave was raised giving a clerestory. The building reopened on 28th April 1885 (Irish Builder; Belfast Newsletter). Although the building was some 50 feet longer than the one it replaced, the transepts were retained and remained an integral part of the new design. Sculpture on the porches was carried out by Coleraine craftsman, Charles McGowan, while ornamental sculpture in the nave was by Dublin sculptor Emery. Coats of arms above the tower porch are of the City of London (left) and Coleraine. Above the south doorway are the coats of arms of the diocese (centre) and Armagh and O’Hara on either side. The choir stalls were of Austrian oak and the prayer desk was made of oak salvaged from the roof timbers of the old church. The east window was fitted with stained glass in 1891 and a peal of 8 bells was acquired for the tower in 1893, cast by John Taylor & Co of Loughborough (Sturdy). According to the Irish Builder, the pulpit was built by Sharp & Emery and installed in 1894 (although Rowan credits the pulpit to Richard Francis Caulfield Orpen) and the same firm are responsible for the oak communion table, presented by James Brooks, a member of the congregation in 1898 (Irish Builder; Rowan). In 1902 the organ was rebuilt by Leeds firm of Abbot & Smith for the sum of £470 and a mechanized water blower replaced the organ blower who was told that his services were no longer required. Stained glass was fitted in the west window in 1909, the work being carried out by the London firm of Butler & Bayne. However, this was damaged during a fire at a neighbouring garage in 1941 and had to be replaced. A war memorial window was dedicated in November 1953. A choir vestry was added to the north-west corner of the church in 1961 and the interior was redecorated at the same period. Rebuilding of the organ took place in the late 1960s by the Irish Organ Co and again in the 1990s (Sturdy). The interior of the church was refurbished following an explosion in Coleraine town centre in 1992 and modifications to the chancel were made including the raising of the floor and the enlarging of the floor area (Sturdy). Pews were removed and replaced with upholstered seats and the tower had to be repaired and the pinnacles stabilised (Walker; UA International). The church contains a number of important seventeenth century monuments, all unattributed, in particular the monument to Ann Munro, wife of Colonel George Munro (d.1647) (Potterton) The Hamilton memorial commemorates brothers who fought for James II and one of whom defended Londonderry during the siege. Sir Tristram Beresford (d.1673) the first mayor of Coleraine is also commemorated as is Elizabeth Dodington (d.1610), wife of Sir Edward, armourer and Captain of the King’s Fort at Dungiven and designer of the walls of Londonderry (Walker). References: Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/5/7/1 First Edition OS Map 1830 2. PRONI OS/6/5/7/2 Second Edition OS map 1849-50 3. PRONI OS/6/5/7/3 Third Edition OS Map 1904 4. PRONI OS/6/5/7/4 Fourth Edition OS Map 1923 5. PRONI OS/6/5/7/5 Fifth Edition OS Map 1949 6. PRONI VAL/1/B/542A-D Townland Valuation (1828-40) 7. PRONI VAL/2/B/5/3/C Griffith’s Valuation (1856-64) 8. PRONI VAL/12/B/30/9A-N Annual Revisions (1864-1929) 9. PRONI VAL/3/C/6/4 First General Revaluation 1933-57 10. PRONI VAL/3/D/6/2/A/46 First General Revaluation 1933-57 11. HB file – 03/18/010 12. Belfast Newsletter 11th December 1875 13. Belfast Newsletter 19th September 1883 14. Belfast Newsletter 18th September 1885 15. Belfast Newsletter 27th November 1899 16. Irish Times 15th September 1883 17. Irish Times 1st June 1884 18. Irish Times 15th December 1884 19. Irish Times 15th April 1885 20. UA International Vol 13 Iss 2 Feb/Mar 1996 Secondary Sources 1. Girvan, W D “Historic Buildings, Groups of Buildings, Areas of Architectural Importance in Coleraine and Portstewart” Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1971-2 2. Mullin, Rev T H “Coleraine in by-gone centuries” Belfast: Century Services Ltd, 1976 3. Mullin, Rev T H “Coleraine in Georgian Times” Belfast: Century Services Ltd, 1977 4. Potterton, H “Irish Church Monuments 1570-1880” Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1975 5. Rowan, A “The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster” Penguin, 1979 6. Sturdy, D J “St Patrick’s Church, Coleraine 1884-1984 Its development and role in the community” 1984 7. Sturdy, D J “St Patrick’s Coleraine – A Short History and Guide” 1997 8. Walker, S “Historic Ulster Churches” Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 2000

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form H-. Alterations detracting from building H+. Alterations enhancing the building I. Quality and survival of Interior J. Setting

Historic Interest

V. Authorship X. Local Interest Y. Social, Cultural or Economic Importance


Constructed on an historic ecclesiastical site dating from the time of St Patrick, the early 17th century church was extensively remodelled to the designs of the renowned church architect Sir Thomas Drew in 1884. Characterised by the eclecticism of the period the building is of a Perpendicular-gothic style with disciplined and refined elements of detailing which include some examples of Celtic Revival devices, such as the application of the shamrock motif. The commanding presence of the pinnacled-tower visually dominates much of the centre of Coleriane but the building also represents a key social feature for the local community. Despite some refurbishment in recent years, the building's character has been retained. It constitutes a landmark structure of outstanding architectural and historic significance.

General Comments

Listing Criteria R - Age; S - Authenticity and T - Historic Importance also apply.

Date of Survey

22 January 2013