19 April 2024

Open day to show off restoration of historic church

by Rebecca Hannant

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

Since its closure to the public in 2014, the building has been renovated by the Churches Conservation Trust, with works carried out including 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 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, the church suffered because of high maintenance costs which forced the local congregation to move to the church of St Matthew 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 on Saturday, April 22, 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 between 11am to 3pm, and donations will also be accepted on the day.

Russell Mathers, warden at St Nicholas Church, said: “It is now time for the community to come forward with ideas of how to use this wonderful church. On the day we will have an ‘ideas book’ and visitors’ book, plus refreshments.

“Hope to see you all on the day.”