16 April 2024

Centuries-old church to reopen to the public

by Rebecca Hannant

St Nicholas Church in Withernsea is to host its first open day since its restoration.

Since is closure to the public in 2014, the church has been renovated by the Churches Conservation Trust. Works carried out include re-roofing, masonry repairs, consolidation and repointing, and repair of gutters, hoppers, downpipes and drainage.

Research suggests that Withernsea’s first medieval church was destroyed by the sea in the 15th century. However, in 1446, permission was obtained to build a new church further inland. It was dedicated to St Nicholas, the patron saint of seafarers, and was consecrated in 1488. By 1575, it was reported to be in decline and later fell into disrepair when a storm tore off the roof in 1609.

The church then lay in ruins for more than 200 years, but when nearby Owthorne Church was claimed by the sea in 1816, a restoration appeal was launched to rebuild the ruin of St Nicholas.

On the opening of the railway in 1854, the directors of the Hull and Holderness Railway Company sought plans and estimates for the restoration of St Nicholas Church. In 1858-9 the remaining shell was skilfully restored by Cuthbert Brodrick who retained enduring features of the original building.

The church served the town for many years before becoming a Grade II listed building in 1987.

In recent decades, high maintenance costs forced the local congregation to move to the St Matthew’s Church in Hull Road and St Nicholas was closed in 2014.

In 2019, the church was taken over by the Churches Conservation Trust, a charity aimed at taking some of the UK’s historic churches, renovating them, and seeking groups who will put them to good use.

In a bid to get people to use its facilities again, an open day will take place in April allowing members of the community to attend and observe some of the work done to the 15th-century structure.

The open day will take place at the church on April 23 between 11am to 3pm. Donations will also be accepted on the day.