Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Christ Church on Pitsmoor Road

A headstop carved in gritty sandstone

Continuing my exploration of the area around Burngreave in Sheffield, I headed up Christ Church Road to Pitsmoor Road, where I wanted to see if I could take some photos of the large early C19 houses for the British Listed Buildings website.
A boundary wall on Pitsmoor Road

Of the two houses that I could see from the main road, No. 253 is built in sandstone ashlar that has marked iron staining in places, with the development of Liesegang rings, whose provenance I couldn’t determine; however it is noticeably different to the flaggy sandstone used to build the boundary wall that fronts this group of houses.
The 1855 Ordnance Survey map of Burngreave

On the 1855 Ordnance Map, three quarries to the south-east and east are all set on the Parkgate Rock, which would seem to be the preferred source of better quality building stone in this part of Sheffield; however, although the Silkstone Rock is also nearby, the boundary walling looks very much like the Greenmoor Rock, which occurs a few hundred metres to the west.
A general view of Christ Church

Crossing over the road to Christ Church, it is immediately apparent that its boundary walls are built with a sandstone that is more massive and has been worked into larger blocks, which are much more regular in shape and size.
A detail of a window at Christ Church

Christ Church was built in 1850 to the design of Flockton and Son, who were also responsible for the chapels and lodges at Burngreave Cemetery, which was built 10 years later and the medium grained sandstone used for the walling and the coarse gritty sandstones used for the dressings have distinct similarities.
A detail of sandstones used at Christ Church

The generally cross-bedded walling stone also has distinct iron staining and Liesegang rings, like the late Georgian house at No. 253 but, in places, there is well defined planar bedding that is reminiscent of the Crawshaw Sandstone.
Gritty sandstone used for headstops

Some of the gritty sandstones contain a significant content of feldspar, which is susceptible to weathering and many of the headstops display weathering of the details, which is not generally seen when the sandstone is composed essentially of quartz grains that are cemented with silica.
A detail of a weathered headstop

The Chatsworth Grit and Loxley Edge Rock in Sheffield possess these characteristics, which makes me think that although the railways had began to bring much better quality stone from Derbyshire and West Yorkshire, local architects were still inclined to use these local gritty sandstones for the dressings.
The tower at Christ church

Without documentary evidence to support my observations, I can only make an educated guess on the provenance of the various sandstones that I could see here, including those used for the extension in 1985, which are obviously quite different to the original building stones.
A view of Christ Church showing the 1985 extension

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