'Desperately needed' upgrade for Hull's oldest church gets go ahead

AN ecclesiastical court has backed plans for a “make or break” £1 million scheme to refurbish Hull’s oldest church.

But St Mary’s on Lowgate still needs to find over £100,000 to be certain of completing the first phase of “desperately needed” work.

The church, which received its licence in 1333, has been historically a gateway to the Old Town. Unusually a pavement runs under its 16th century tower.

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Having a proper kitchen inside the church where hot meals can be prepared, toilets, heating and new electrics and lighting are all part of the £1m scheme which recently got approval from the Diocese of York’s Consistory Court.

Henry VIII is believed to have worshipped at St Mary’s, Hull's oldest church Picture: Terry CarrottHenry VIII is believed to have worshipped at St Mary’s, Hull's oldest church Picture: Terry Carrott
Henry VIII is believed to have worshipped at St Mary’s, Hull's oldest church Picture: Terry Carrott

Long-serving churchwarden Hilary Newton said: “This project really is make or break for St Mary’s. Without significant change to the interior St Mary’s is unsustainable as a place of worship and the church’s role in the community will no longer be viable.”

She said years without basic facilities, poor light and a dangerously uneven floor had meant the congregation has dwindled, restricting their ability to raise funds for the church.

“People may not realise that St Mary’s does not receive funding from the Church of England, yet we are responsible for maintaining this Grade II* listed architectural gem, a key landmark in Hull’s civic centre and Old Town,” she added.

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After years of fundraising, generous legacies and recent grants, the small team at St Mary’s has achieved 87 per cent of the funds required for the first phase.

They are now appealing to the business community for the remaining £104,700, which would allow the first phase works to begin as early as January.

The church's stained glass windows contain the earliest piece of mediaeval glass in the city dating from around 1400 - the triple crown symbol, relating back to the Royal Charter of 1299, when the city became Kingston-upon-Hull.

Across the road is the Guildhall and next door Hull Crown Court and visitors can range from High Court judges, to those fresh from the dock.

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Just down the road is its slightly younger but much more talked about neighbour Holy Trinity Church.

St Mary’s is bound up with Hull’s maritime heritage with many of its over 30 monuments commemorating the city’s ship building, sea faring and merchant families, including a memorial dated 1771 to Benjamin Blaydes who built the ‘Bounty’.

Reputedly Henry VIII knocked down its west wall - although it may have fallen down of its own accord - so he could get a better view of the river from his palace when resident in Hull.

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