Save St Mary’s! Grimsby’s historic Catholic church under threat
St Mary’s on the Sea, Grimsby’s only listed Catholic church, is under threat following an internal review recommending its closure.
The report, commissioned by the Bishop of Nottingham, Rt Rev Patrick McKinney, describes the grade II listed building as “the mother church of the Grimsby area and regarded in the community as such” yet it recommends the "disposal, in one way or another" of the church.
The report, entitled 'Review of the Needs of the Roman Catholic Church in North East Lincolnshire' (available on the Parish website) appears to pay little regard to the historical or architectural importance of the church and also discusses the possibility of de-listing.
St Mary’s was built in 1879-83 in a gothic revival style to the designs of MC and C Hadfield of Sheffield. It lies in a Conservation Area and was listed for its national architectural, artistic and historical significance in 1999.
The church is full of architectural and artistic features – like the marble altar designed by Pugin and Pugin, impressive stained glass windows, and a rich scheme of decoration for the sanctuary, painted in 1908.
The church has also recently been in receipt of a grant offer of £82,000 from the Listed Places of Worship Fund for roof repairs which would constitute a large portion of the estimated repair costs. If the church closed, the grant would no longer be available – but the repair work would still be required while a new use was found.
In response to the proposal for closure the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nottingham commissioned its own expert report by the Architectural History Practice which highlights the national significance of St Mary’s.
It states, “St Mary on the Sea is a building of considerable architectural, historical, artistic and communal significance….A substantial grant has been offered for its repair, which would help ensure its continued use as a place of worship, as well as serving as a catalyst for the regeneration of the Conservation Area. This is a substantial public investment and vote of confidence in the future of the building as a place of worship…central to any discussion on the future allocation of resources in Grimsby should be a presumption that St Mary’s repaired and revived, will continue in its historic mission.”
Marcus Binney, Executive President of SAVE Britain's Heritage said: "St Mary's is an important historic church in Grimsby that tells the story of the town. Its fine interior is brimming with original fittings and architectural details that should be treasured.
"It has already secured a large grant for repairs that would be lost if the building closed or stopped being a church. Closure of such a fine building should be a last resort - and nobody's first choice. We implore the Bishop to do the right thing in Grimsby and save St Mary's."
The Bishop is visiting Grimsby on 17th November as part of his decision making process.
To help save St Mary's, contact the Bishop of Nottingham Rt Rev Patrick Joseph McKinney at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Bishop’s House, 27 Cavendish Road East, The Park, Nottingham NG7 1BB
1. For more information please contact Henrietta Billings, Director, on 0207 253 3500 or Henrietta.Billings@savebritainsheritage.org
2. See further details about the architectural and historical significance of the grade II listed St Mary on the Sea here: listed building description
3. SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architectural historians, writers, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.