Grimsby - St Mary on the Sea

Heneage Road, Grimsby, Lincolnshire DN32 9DZ

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A late Gothic Revival church by the Sheffield firm of M.E. Hadfield and Son.  The church was built with financial support from Thomas Young of Kingerby Manor, and is particularly richly fitted out. The original intention was for a much larger building, hence the rather truncated character of the design as built. The church and contemporary presbytery form part of a notable group of Victorian and Edwardian educational   and   religious   buildings   built   on   land   provided   by the Heneage Estate.

Grimsby’s expansion as a fishing port took off in the 1840s after the arrival of the railway and the building of the docks (completed in 1852). These developments brought a large influx of Irish construction workers, to add to the small and scattered Catholic population which had kept the faith during penal times. A mission was established  in  the  town  in  1848  and  ten  years  later  Sir  John  Sutton,  a  wealthy Catholic convert, purchased some land on what is now Heneage Road for the building of a church. He died before this could be realised, and work on building a church did not start until 1880, financed in good part by Thomas Arthur Young of Kingerby Manor. The ambitious original plan was for a church of almost double the size of the present building, but this did not prove financially possible, hence the somewhat truncated design as built. The architects were Hadfield & Son, who were generally employed on the building  projects funded by Young. The church was opened  by Bishop Bagshawe on 19 August 1883. The church was richly fitted out, some of the furnishings (e.g. the pulpit) being imported from the continent. Thomas Young paid for the sanctuary furnishings (high altar, stained glass carved oak stalls). The chancel also had rich stencil decoration on the walls (figure 1). The Hon Mrs Georgina Fraser, sister of Lord Heneage, donated the Sacred Heart altar (by Pugin & Pugin, according to the list entry).

The church was redecorated in 1908 at the time of its silver jubilee celebrations, when the sanctuary was enriched with wall paintings, with panels of the Nativity and the Adoration of the Magi (figure 2). The artist(s) for these is not recorded, but on stylistic grounds they can be attributed to the studio of Nathaniel Westlake.   Other wall paintings in the church include a charming dado frieze of fishes running around the perimeter, according to the parish history painted in the 1930s by three members of the congregation; these too have been painted over, apart from a short section at the west end under the gallery.

At some point (possibly in the 1960s) the sanctuary wall paintings were covered over, and in 1979 the church was reordered, with a new altar and lectern. In 1983 a narthex was formed under the western gallery.

More recently (2002-03) the wall paintings in the sanctuary of the sanctuary have been partially uncovered and conserved by Nigel Leaney.  The organ (installed in the 1920s) has also been restored.

The building is fully described in the list entry. However, there is no mention of the sanctuary wall paintings, which had not been uncovered at the time of the listing.

The church has a good collection of stained glass, much of it by John Hardman studios. Apart from the original east windows, windows of note include the west window  (Crucifixion, with  figures),  in memory of  Canon Hawkins,  d.1913  (photo middle right, possibly by Hardman); the Miraculous Draught of Fishes, in memory of Emily Hyldon d.1945, signed  John Hardman Studios;  Patrick and  Mary Tierney, 1897; Alice Tierney, 1889; Thomas Rice 1914, all probably by Hardman.

Diocese: Nottingham

Architect: M.E. Hadfield & Son

Original Date: 1880

Conservation Area: No

Listed Grade: Grade II