Diocese of York

Work has begun on the internal transformation of Hull’s iconic Holy Trinity Church in the most significant changes to the majestic building since Victorian times.

Contractors began dismantling and removing pews on the 13th February as part of a major re-ordering of the nave, to create a flexible, open space for more inclusive worship as well as a wide range of cultural, social and community events.

The works form part of a wide-ranging programme of improvements including underfloor heating, new limestone flooring, lighting, toilets and other facilities, as well as a new glazed entrance to encourage visitors in from the newly-revamped Trinity Square.

The works, which are due to be completed in the autumn, are the most significant element of the £4.5m transformation which is putting 700-year-old Holy Trinity at the heart of Hull’s exciting regeneration.

It follows approval by the Chancellor of the Diocese of York, Canon Peter Collier QC, for the works, following an exhaustive process. He ruled the changes were necessary to enable the church to be financially viable and continue to deliver its Christian mission.

Work began today to dismantle and remove the church’s Victorian oak pews to enable the laying of the underfloor heating and stone flooring throughout the nave.

Many of the pews will return to the church, either in remodelled and fixed form at either side of the nave or shortened and made moveable on raised platforms or on castors, so they can be moved in or out as appropriate for services and in order to accommodate larger-scale events. The changes will mean that, for the first time, the congregation will be able to see, as well as hear, Holy Trinity’s choir as they will face into the church.

All the beautifully carved pew ends will be preserved and timber from the pew seats and backs will be used for furniture and fittings for the church’s new shop and cafĂ©, display cabinets and storage cupboards.

For cultural and community events and many services, the pews will be replaced by up to 500 high-quality moveable chairs, each funded by supporters of Holy Trinity’s development project.

The Vicar of Holy Trinity, the Reverend Canon Dr Neal Barnes, said: “It’s really exciting to see the start of work to transform the interior of the church and create a warm, comfortable and welcoming environment for the congregation and the whole community to use.

“It’s only a few weeks since the completion of the public realm works that have created a fabulous area outside the church in Trinity Square. Now we will see a similar opening up of the nave to create a huge, flexible space for people to enjoy.
“It will make Holy Trinity an even more amazing place for people to worship and come together to enjoy a wide variety of events. Holy Trinity’s history, heritage and architecture is magnificent. These changes will make it absolutely stunning – they will make Holy Trinity a wonderful place for community uses of all kinds and a superb visitor destination.”

Holy Trinity Development Trust Chair John Robinson said the start of internal works was a huge milestone for the development project, but more financial support was needed for it to be delivered.

He said:

“We have raised £3.1m to date – all of it from private individuals, trusts and local companies. Not a single penny has come from public funds. That’s an amazing achievement and we want to express our thanks to everyone who has contributed.
“We’ve now started phase two of the project, but we still have a gap of £300,000 to fill in the next few months to fund this work. We’re going ahead in faith and confidence that individuals and companies will support us generously, as so many have to take us to this exciting stage.”

Clergy and staff at Holy Trinity stressed that, despite the works, all events that have been confirmed will go ahead, including a historic service on May 13 when the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, will re-dedicate Holy Trinity as Hull Minster in recognition of the progress of the development project and how the church is reaching out to the community in so many ways.

The internal works are being delivered by Hull-based contractor Houlton, which has been carrying out construction and development projects for 135 years.

Andrew Kingston, Houlton Building and Maintenance Director, said:

“We are delighted to be entrusted to work on another landmark building in Hull. We understand the history and significance of Holy Trinity Church to the city and we will undertake this project with the sensitivity and respect it demands.”

The pews will be remodelled at the workshops of bespoke architectural joiners and woodcarvers Houghtons of York, which has delivered restoration, refurbishment and re-ordering works at many great churches, including St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral.

Houghtons of York Director Roger Silk said

“Very little, if anything, of heritage value will be lost in the work we are carrying out. We will be retaining all the decoratively carved pew ends within the scheme and the pews are being carefully shortened and adapted to make them moveable. Our aim is that, at the end of the work to shorten the pews, you will not be able to see the joins.
“It is a privilege to be part of preserving the Victorian past while also creating a new environment within the church that connects it to its mediaeval history and brings new life and uses to a building that has been at the heart of Hull for 700 years.”

To find out how you can support the transformation of Holy Trinity click here or contact e-mail: development@holytrinityhull.com or phone 01482 224460.