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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:

Date of Construction:
1820 - 1839

Address :
St John's Roman Catholic Church 59 Laurell Hill Coleraine Co. Londonderry BT51 3AY


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:
C8436 3194

Owner Category

Exterior Description And Setting

Symmetrical double-height Gothick stone Roman Catholic church, dated 1834, to the designs of J. Kirkpatrick, with single-storey lean-to projection to the west, built c.1980. Set on a north-south axis on an elevated site to the west of Laurel Hill Road and to the south of Dromard Drive surrounded by an extensive burial ground, overlooking the river Bann to the east. Pitched slate roof set behind crenellated parapet wall and three shallow raised gables to the north, south and east and cast-iron downpipes to the east and west elevations. Uncoursed squared rock-faced basalt walling with sandstone ashlar plinth course. Pointed-arched window openings with voussoired basalt arches, chamfered sandstone ashlar surrounds, chamfered sills, hood mouldings and replacement multi-pane timber tracery windows, inserted c.1990. South entrance front is three windows wide with a central shallow gable having a blind arcaded sandstone raking parapet wall surmounted by a sandstone cross and flanked by a pair of tapered sandstone pinnacles rising from stepped buttresses. The flanking windows have crenellated parapets also flanked by pinnacles rising from angled buttresses. The roof line is delineated by a sandstone architrave course to the base of the parapet. Square-headed door opening with chamfered tooled sandstone architrave surround, hood moulding and a pair of replacement sheeted hardwood doors. Carved sandstone tablet positioned over the entrance inscribed; “Saint Johns / Erected / A.D. / 1834 / Revd. D. O. Doherty Pastor / J. Kirkpatrick Arch.”. West nave elevation abutted by single-storey lean-to extension spanning the entire elevation. Painted rough-cast cement rendered walling to this elevation only with a single chimneystack to the south end. Two pairs of pointed-arched window openings to either end, truncated by the later lean-to extension. North elevation detailed as per entrance front without door opening. Voussoired round-headed former door opening to basement level (not accessible) formed in sandstone ashlar, now cement rendered over. Symmetrical east nave elevation is five windows wide with a central shallow gable flanked by a pair of quarter-engaged octagonal sandstone piers soaring above eaves level having blind Gothick arcading to each face and surmounted by raked crenellations. The central gable and remaining elevation has a crenellated parapet wall rising from a sandstone architrave course with a sandstone cross to the apex of the gable and angled buttresses with tapered pinnacles to either end. Setting Set on a north-south axis on an elevated site to the west of Laurel Hill Road and to the south of Dromard Drive surrounded by an extensive burial ground, overlooking the river Bann to the east. The church is encircled by a bitmac footpath with the current entrance located on Dromard Drive to the northwest with replacement steel railings and gates. The elevated sloping site is filled with stone, cast-iron and marble grave markers dating from early nineteenth-century to the present. Entire site enclosed by rubblestone walls, finished in cement render to the road. Roof Slate RWG Cast-iron Walling Uncoursed rock-faced squared basalt Windows Replacement timber tracery


Duff, Thomas Toye, E J Kirkpatrick, J

Historical Information

The church of St John, Killowen (RC) dates from 1834-36 (dated 1834) and although signed by an architect, the little-known J Kirkpatrick, it is possible that the church is, in fact, the work of Thomas Duff. The Catholic Directory of 1837 states that the church was built ‘to the design of a most celebrated architect’, unlikely to refer to Fitzpatrick who may in fact have been the supervising architect rather than the designer. ( The church bears a marked resemblance to Newry cathedral church, St Patrick’s Dundalk and St Malachy’s Belfast, the two former designed by Duff and the latter by Duff’s partner, Thomas Jackson. (HB file; The church was built due to the exertions of the parish priest Rev Daniel O’Doherty who received subscriptions from, among others, the liberal MP for Coleraine (amounting to at least £26) and further financial assistance from the Irish Society. (Walker; Freeman’s Journal) The foundation stone was laid on 22nd April 1834 by the Rev Daniel Doherty and the Belfast Newsletter announced that ‘The architecture of the edifice will be the choicest Gothic and tastefully ornamented’. (Belfast Newsletter 6th May 1834) The building was dedicated on 13th November 1836 and is first shown on the second edition OS map of 1855. The first edition of 1830 shows the previous chapel on the site, which is listed in the Townland Valuation of 1828-40 at a valuation of £7.14s. ( Griffith’s Valuation (1856-64) lists the present ‘RC Chapel and yard’ at a valuation of £48 and £2 for the yard. The original layout of the church had the altar placed on the long wall of the building, with a door on each gable but this arrangement was altered c1911 so that the sanctuary occupies the north end of the nave. The original floor was of packed earth. (Walker) OS Memoirs (1835) record that the church occupies the site of a former chapel built 28 years before which was taken down when the congregation outgrew it, the walls having become unstable. The shell of the present church was said to have cost £1,100 and the altar £100. The chapel is described as a ‘very handsome and richly adorned piece of architecture’ and a pencil sketch is given of the building, showing it has changed little externally since it was first built. (OS Memoirs) Improvements, most likely the removal of the sanctuary from the western wall to the north end of the nave, were made in 1911 to designs by Edward J Toye, who completed a number of commissions for the Catholic church. A single-storey extension was added to the length of the western elevation in the 1980s. (; HB file) Some of the windows are by Meyer of Munich. (Girvan) Girvan calls the church ‘unusually elegant’ and Rowan thinks it ‘ambitious for its date and denomination’ while Walker praises it as ‘remarkably fine’. Girvan’s survey of Coleraine carries a picture of the interior in the early 1970s. This shows that the north end of the church has since been substantially remodelled including the altering/removal of the original central window. The building was listed in 1976. Renovations and refurbishment took place in 1990 when the building was reroofed and the present sanctuary fittings were installed. The stone pinnacles were also replaced at around this time. (HB file; Walker) References: Primary Sources 1. PRONI OS/6/1/11/1 First Edition OS Map 1830 2. PRONI OS/6/1/112 Second Edition OS map 1855 3. PRONI OS/6/1/11/3 Third Edition OS Map 1904 4. PRONI OS/6/1/11/4 Fourth Edition OS Map 1921 5. PRONI OS/6/1/11/5 Fifth Edition OS Map 1950 6. PRONI VAL/1/B/57 Townland Valuation (1828-40) 7. PRONI Printed Griffith’s Valuation (1859 8. PRONI VAL/12/B/30/9A-P Annual Revisions (1864-1929) 9. HB file – 03/15/002 10. Freeman’s Journal 26th September 1833 11. Belfast Newsletter 6th May 1834 Secondary Sources 1. Day, A., P. McWilliams, English L., eds. “OS Memoirs of Ireland, Parishes of County Londonderry XII, 1829-30, 1832, 1834-6, Vol. 33.” Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 1995. 2. Girvan, W D “Historic Buildings, Groups of Buildings, Areas of Architectural Importance in North Derry including Limavady, Ballykelly, Castlerock, Downhill and Magilligan” Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 1975 3. Rowan, A “The Buildings of Ireland: North West Ulster” Penguin, 1979 4. Walker, S “Historic Ulster Churches” Belfast: Institute of Irish Studies, 2000 5.

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation H-. Alterations detracting from building J. Setting

Historic Interest

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


Symmetrical double-height Gothick stone Roman Catholic church, dated 1834, to the designs of J. Kirkpatrick, but possibly by Thomas Duff. Set on a north-south axis on an elevated site to the west of Laurel Hill Road. An ambitious post emancipation church built in a late Georgian Gothick style on a highly visible site. The harmonious symmetrical elevations and quality stonework are accentuated by the octagonal piers and tapered pinnacles presenting a significant landmark on the skyline of Coleraine. It is of social interest to the local community.

General Comments

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

Date of Survey

23 August 2012