St. Catherine's Church

The church was built in 1841-3, in a prominent position in Crook, beside the main road linking Weardale and Durham. Designed by Ignatius Bonomi, an architect based in Durham City, St. Catherine's church was built in the Victorian understanding of Early English Style. It was one of Bonomi's 'cheap churches', so called because it was funded largely by the Incorporated Church Building Society, whose main preoccupation was not so much with aesthetics as with the provision of 'free sittings'.

The original church was a very much simpler and lower building than the one  that can be seen today, comprising the present nave area, an apse at the east end containing the altar and an external porch over the entrance at the west end. The official number of 'sittings' was recorded as 305.

Major modifications were made to St. Catherine's in 1877-8 as by then, the population of Crook was listed as 'not less than 11,000' and it was felt that the size of the building was inadequate. An extra aisle was added on the south side providing a further 137 'sittings', with the original south wall being replaced by the pillars in existence today. At the same time the door and porch by which the church is now entered was created in the south-west corner of the south aisle and the font was moved from its original position in the main aisle of the nave, to a place near where it stands today. Also, the roof on the nave was raised by three feet., which explains the rather unbalanced blank wall above the windows on the north side of the nave; the line of the original roof can still be clearly seen outside at the west end, particularly on the cornerstones. Six years later, in 1884 the church was further extended when the apse was replaced by the present chancel, and an organ chamber and vestry added; the organ itself was installed in 1891.

There have been a number of additions and alterations throughout the twentieth century and one addition in 2007.


The chancel screen was added as a memorial to parishioners who died in           the First World War.


The sanctuary was panelled in oak, the reredos and communion rail added, and oak choir stalls were installed.


The sanctuary and chancel floors were re-laid in black and white marble and the stone base of the altar was replaced with white marble.


The gas lighting was replaced with electric.


An altar and rail were installed in the south aisle.


The porch at the west end was replaced by an annex to serve as a choir vestry and meeting room; the font was moved to its present site to allow more space around it.


A further major re-ordering of the church was undertaken when the south aisle was separated from the nave by a glass partition and the clergy vestry converted into a kitchen. This has provided a flexible, informal area (the 'Side  Aisle') accommodating a variety of church and community activities including  informal worship, art exhibitions, keep-fit classes. 


September saw the opening of the church coffee shop. Open on Thursday mornings initially as a coffee morning to open up the church to mid-week and help raise funds for the re-decoration but later expanding to serve light lunches.


St. Catherine's was completely re-decorated internally. In October several children from schools in Crook made a short film (Strange Dream) which won awards at Tampere in Finland at the VIDEOTIVOLI Film Festival. 


 During the twentieth century all but two of our plain glass windows were replaced with those of stained glass. On the 30th November 2007, our most recent window, which was designed by the artist Ann Sotheran, was installed. On Advent Sunday it was dedicated by Rev'd Vincent Fenton, in memory of a  long-serving and well-loved churchwarden and Reader, Mr Norman Smith. You see various photographs of this and other windows in our Gallery sections.

As each generation has made its mark on St. Catherine's, the building has undergone many changes with consequent encroachment on Bonomi's light and simplicity of design. Despite this, it still retains much of its original style and feel.

Past and Present Incumbents