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Sunderland, Tyne & Wear

Holy Trinity Church, Sunderland

Last Updated:

30 May 2023

Sunderland, Tyne & Wear

This is a

Church, Place of Worship

54.907785, -1.368702

Founded in 

1719

Current status is

Extant

Designer (if known):

William Etty

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Grade I listed

"Since the old parish church of Bishopwearmouth was no longer large enough, in 1719 an Act of Parliament was obtained to establish the new parish of Sunderland. So it was that the Church of Holy Trinity came to be built, and its cemetery to be laid out, in about 1719 on a piece of ground enclosed from the town moor or common pasture. The church was enlarged in 1735 by the addition of an east apse, and in 1803 the interior was remodelled by Thomas Wilson, who had directed the construction of Burdon's Iron Bridge across the Wear. In 1988, because of a dwindling congregation and the need for expensive repairs, the church was closed. It is now in the care of the Redundant Churches Fund." - Sitelines

NEHL - This beautiful brick church was built 1719 to serve the swelling pop. of an industrialising town, the first south of the river. This spot was picked as it was already the site of a burial ground, which is said to site more than 10,000 burials due to the cholera epidemics. It stands right on the edge of Sunderland’s Town Moor too, which was once the epicentre of anything and everything in the town. Bull baiting and bear baiting took place here in its early years, and tons of football clubs found this place home. There was a railway station too!

Listing Description (if available)

The dramatic evolution of Sunderland's East End can be seen here in the 2nd half of the 19th century. As Sunderland's historic centre, it was filled with bustling markets, factories, hotels, pubs and slaughter houses which are all now consigned to history. The remnants of this age are limited to the church, Trafalgar Square in the north east and the grave yard which is more or less incorporated into the last part of the Town Moor. Many of the terraces have also disappeared, with rebuilds taking place over the latter half of the 19th century due to being classed as slum housing. New streets and terraces were built in their place, such as James William Street which still adorn various stone plaques above some doors.

By 1919, there was still little change compared to modern times, as much of it was cleared in the next few decades. The Rectory and Vicarage of the church are clearly annotated on Church Walk and Church Street, though there is a number of other places of worship surrounding them. There was also a single track tramway adjacent to the Town Moor, which only exemplifies the importance of this area even as late as this.

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The exterior of the Holy Trinity in 2023. Its beautiful brickwork sets it apart from many churches in the North East.

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An artists depiction of the church in the 1780s, the church already being 60 years old. Source: Sunderland Council

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The interior of the church in the 1900s, with the two side galleries and box pews in view. Source: Sunderland Council

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