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New lease of life for St Nicholas Church

    By Nicki Jakeman  

THE OWNERSHIP of St Nicholas Church in Withernsea was officially handed from the Church Commissioners to the Church Conservation Trust (CCT) on Tuesday, November 26.

Under the CCT’s care, a new lease of life now awaits the church, which has been closed for worship and has stood empty since 2014.

St Nicholas was closed following a decision to concentrate the resources of the Parish of Withernsea at St Matthew’s, Owthorne.

The CCT is the national charity saving historic Anglican churches at risk. They currently have over 350 buildings in their care, all of which are listed, most being Grade I and II.

St Nicholas, Withernsea, is a Grade II listed building, largely reconstructed in 1858 to 1859 to the designs of Leeds Town Hall architect Cuthbert Brodrick, as a replacement for a 15th century church which was destroyed by the sea.

While the church building is now vested in the CCT, the churchyard along with the existing access route from Queen Street, remains in the ownership of the parish. The churchyard has been formally closed for burials and the local authority is now responsible for its care and maintenance.

The transfer of ownership of the church comes after a lengthy process of public consultation.

Angus Deas, Pastoral and Closed Churches Officer at the Diocese of York and Emma Cosgrif Case Officer for North East Region Closed Churches Division, Church Commissioners for England handed over the keys to Clare Chapman, Business Support Officer for the North Region at the CCT on Monday. Also present were former church warden Jim Hilton, church warden for St Matthew’s Alan MacGregor and representative for the War Memorial Clock Trust Peter Cook. Jim Hilton told the Gazette the transfer was ‘fantastic news.’

The handing over of the church’s key followed the news that planning permission to carry out its repairs was approved with conditions by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council on Friday, November 15.

The CCT made the application for repairs to roofs and rainwater goods, tower stabilisation and masonry repairs at the former parish church on Park Avenue. The repairs are to be funded by the Church Commissioners.

Clare Chapman, of the CCT, said: “We are delighted that St Nicholas Church has joined the CCT family. This is the 354th church placed within our care. Now the real work begins. We have received tenders for the necessary repair works and a contractor will be appointed shortly. All being well, and weather permitting, we hope the works will begin on site in the spring.”

During the works there will be a series of open days to give members of the public the opportunity to see the work being carried out in more detail.

Once the building has been repaired the CCT intend for it to be open for the whole community to use and are now appealing to the public to help them by putting their ideas forward for the church’s use in the future.

Clare added: “We are looking for help from the community and are keen for people to tell us what they think should happen at St Nicholas’ and how they think the church could be used. We would also like to hear from volunteers who would like to support us in opening the church to the public. It’s not enough to save just the church building itself, it’s really about its future use in the community.”

Angus Deas, of the Diocese of York, said on Tuesday: “This has been a long time coming today. We are very pleased the CCT have taken it into their care and know they will look after it very well.”

Emma Cosgrif, of the Church Commissioners, added: “The Church Commissioners have been working with the Diocese of York since the church’s closure in 2014 to find use for the building. We wish our colleagues at the CCT well with the repair programme.”

Anyone who wants to make a suggestion as to how the building could be used is asked to contact the CCT North Regional office on 0113 2441689.

Alternatively, email Clare direct at [email protected]

The Holderness Gazette - Serving News to the Holderness Region