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Conversion from holiness to housing is no laughing matter for redundant Bishop Auckland church

26 January 2018

St Peter’s, Bishop Auckland, in Co. Durham;

St Peter’s, Bishop Auckland, in Co. Durham;

A REDUNDANT church where the comedy film star Stan Laurel was baptised is on sale looking for offers of more than £295,000.

St Peter’s, Bishop Auckland, in Co. Durham, which is Grade II listed, closed in 2013 and is being marketed as a development opportunity. The estate agents Hunters describe it as having “a beautiful yet simple, architectural style”, which is suitable for various uses, including conversion into a house with six bedrooms. It already has planning permission for two three-bedroomed apartments.

Near the font where Laurel was baptised in October 1891 is a plaque recalling the service. His family had moved to Bishop Auckland soon after his birth in June 1890, in Ulverston, Cumbria, and he later became a pupil at the King James Grammar School nearby. The family subsequently moved to Glasgow, where Laurel worked with his father, who managed the Metropole Theatre. He made his first professional appearance in the city aged just 16.

The font where Stan Lauren was baptisedSt Peter’s was built of sandstone in 1875 as part of a church-building boom in the Durham diocese. One of the largest parish churches in the region, it could accommodate a congregation of 550, and cost £7000, which was more than twice the average price at the time. It includes a bell tower and a copper spire, which replaced the planned spire made of stone, when money ran out.

The adjoining church hall is also for sale, separately, at £110,000, and has planning approval for two apartments.

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