Sandsend village church faces closure without help

St Mary's in Sandsend. Picture by Scott Wicking
St Mary's in Sandsend. Picture by Scott Wicking

Victorian place of worship needs repairs

A fundraising campaign has been launched to help save St Mary’s Church in Sandsend from possible closure.

One of the principal fundraisers, Stephen Renshaw, married his wife, Judith, at the church in 2008, despite living 80 miles away in West Yorkshire.

He explained why the church means so much to him, saying: “It was my wife’s dream to get married in that church.

“I proposed to her on Sandsend beach and we later married at St Mary’s.

“When we were visiting the church, we saw a notice saying it was under threat, and my wife and I were so upset to hear that.”

He added: ”Although the regular congregation numbers have declined, St Mary’s is cherished by the whole community and the hundreds who visit each year.

“We call St Mary’s ‘our church’ and that is why we want to help this small passionate group of people keep the church going so that our children and grandchildren can also enjoy its splendour for many years to come.”

The high costs and low number of users have put the future of the church in doubt.

A recent structural survey has highlighted the need for repairs in the building which must be carried out over the next one to two years.

Failure to raise the estimated £25,000 required for these repairs could see the building closed to the public.

The main issues are that the church, built during the Victorian period, needs repairs just to make it fit for purpose.

A further complication is that the St Mary’s building is not owned by the church – it is leased to them by Lord Normanby, and Lythe PCC are under a legal obligation to look after the building.

Mike Russell, chairman of St Mary’s Appeal Committee, said: “We are trying to raise money to keep the church open, but also to use the church as a community space as well.

“As the village hall has been closed, we want to raise enough to put a kitchen and toilet in the building, so it can be used as a place for the community and a place of worship.

“The cost of repairs is about £25,000 but we are trying to raise about £50-60,000 to make it a community space.”

The Parish of Lythe is a rural and seaside landscape which includes the communities of Lythe, Sandsend, Goldsborough and Kettleness.

The name “Lythe” means “on a hill”. The Parish of Lythe, which originally extended over some 40 square miles, and included the present parishes of Egton and Ugthorpe, is nearly all high above sea level, though the sea forms a Parish boundary.

St Mary’s’ parent church is St Oswald’s at Lythe, which is found at the top of Lythe bank.