Building » Scarborough – St Edward the Confessor

Scarborough – St Edward the Confessor

Avenue Victoria, Scarborough

A pleasing church in the Byzantine style, somewhat quirky and curious in this comfortable Victorian suburb, and forming an attractive townscape feature.

With the growth of the town of Scarborough came the foundation from St Peter’s of chapels-of-ease, the first of which was St Edward the Confessor on the South Cliff. Negotiations to buy land there were underway in 1891 but subsequently Elizabeth Reynard of Sunderlandwick (near Driffield), who died at Scarborough in that year, gave the land and a legacy for the building of a church. The money was invested and nothing done about building a church until 1911 or 1912 when a Mr Anderson of York offered a donation of £1,000 if the building was begun at once. The foundation stone for St Edward the Confessor’s church was laid on August 13, 1912, and the church opened in 1914. The architects were John Petch & Son of Scarborough, an established practice in the town. The architect’s perspective of the church hangs in the church hall. Pevsner gives the architect as Dom E Roulan (sic). Fr Eugene Roulin, a French Benedictine monk, was the first resident priest at Filey and designed the Catholic church there in 1905 (qv), so he may have been responsible for the initial sketch ideas for St Edward’s, passed to Petch & Son to draw up and execute. The unusual window tracery is particularly reminiscent of the Filey design. In 1968 St Edward’s became a parish in its own right but in 1999 it reverted to being a chapel-of-ease.


A small red brick building with minimal stone dressings and clay pantile roof, consisting of a gabled nave with a lean-to porch (1987) and a southwest tower, and a lower sanctuary. The style is Byzantine with a particularly distinctive tracery to the windows, like Middle Eastern sun screens, but probably derived from early Christian sources (cf Filey). The church is elevated from the street and all the show is in the (liturgical) west front. A modern porch runs the full width of the nave and is designed in the spirit of the original, with paired round-arched windows either side of the door. There was originally no entrance to the church on this side. Trio of stepped round-arched windows above embraced within a single round arch. Porch tower to the left with the original entrance with round arch and stone surround, the tympanum intricately carved. Square tower above, turning into an octagon above the nave eaves and with a tiled pyramidal roof. Small round-arched bell-openings with the same flowing tracery as used elsewhere. Decorative raised brickwork patters at the base of the octagon and in the gable of the nave. The side walls of the church are plainly treated with paired round-arched windows, repeating the tracery design in the leading of the glazing.

The interior is plain and simple, an unadorned round arch separating nave from sanctuary. Functional king post roof to the nave, simply with purlins in the sanctuary. Panelled dado throughout. Oak pews, probably original. Stone altar with relief carving of grazing reindeer, inscribed ‘Fons Vitae’, fountain of life. Low stone reredos against the wall behind with a Romanesque-arched tabernacle. Panelled canopy suspended above. Timber nave gallery on octagonal columns with cushion-shaped capitals, its front treated with the same pierced patterned tracery as elsewhere. Stations of the Cross of strong character, solid rectangular wooden panels with the scenes carved (adzed) in relief.

Heritage Details

Architect: John Petch & Son

Original Date: 1912

Conservation Area: Yes

Listed Grade: Not Listed