Restoration – April to October, 2018
Groomsport Parish Church is a unique building, in a number of ways. It was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon to the instructions of Colonel the Hon. John Waring Maxwell MP of Finnebrogue, Downpatrick and owner of Groomsport House. Built in 1842 it has evolved into a building which is unique in these Islands, what amounts to a miniature cathedral. The building is also different in that it faces west where other churches in the episcopal tradition face east. It furthermore houses a collection of stained glass which would grace a very much larger church building.
It all began in October 2015 when our architect, Ken Best produced a PP presentation on how we might proceed to breathe new life into our old, damp, battered, unique, beautiful and much loved Church building. The General and Select Vestries were unanimous: it had to be done for the sake of the Parish, Groomsport, Ulster’s heritage and above all our Christian faith.
During its 175 years of life Groomsport Parish Church had been extended several times but had not received an overall refit until now. Some repair works had been carried out in the last fifty years but the fabric was now in serious need of attention.
By dint of careful and skilful financial management together with the generous support of parishioners and friends and a substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund we have been able to finance a full external and internal refurbishment for which our Chief Contractor was East Down Construction Ltd. Over the last seven months the entire roof has been replaced, stonework has been repaired or replaced, windows refurbished and all water goods replaced in keeping with the original. Internally, the walls have been damp proofed, the old heating pipes replaced with a modern gas-fired underfloor system, the Church has been entirely re-wired and an appropriate lighting system installed. Finally, after complete redecoration, we have replaced the old pipe organ, which was of no historic significance, with a new digital 3-manual instrument supplied by Viscount Classical Organs of Bicester, Oxfordshire.
From the beginning we were determined to maintain the sanctity, ethos and beauty of Groomsport Parish Church. This we have done: there are no big screens!