Use the slider to view the before and after photo.


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!

Architect – Ken Best from Gordon McKnight Partnership

Project Manager – Barry Greenaway

Builders – East Down Construction, Portaferry – Foreman – Charles Coleman


To view building work and organ photographs CLICK HERE

The Rededication after the Restoration Work

Rededication Service – December 2018

A very special Service of Thanksgiving and Re-dedication took place in Groomport Parish Church on Sunday 2 December, Advent Sunday 2018.  The service was led by our Rector, Rev Duncan Pollock and the special guest was The Right Reverend Harold Millar, Bishop of Down and Dromore.  Other guests included Lady Hermon, our MP, Councillor Eddy Thompson, Deputy Mayor, local clergy, councillors, and other dignitaries.   Bishop Harold in his address, commented on the full church, and gave thanks to the Rector, the Select Vestry and everyone involved in bringing Groomsport Parish to such an encouraging place.  The Bishop recognised the number of ways in which our church has grown in recent years.

The Service was a celebration of our return to worship in the beautiful village church after six months of extensive building work which included a new roof, major structural stone work, rewiring, and installing a new heating system.  A much needed new Three Manual organ was also installed.  It was a fundamental requirement of the Project Team that the Church, which had been originally designed by Sir Charles Lanyon, should retain its traditional village ethos and sanctity whilst being secured and restored as a building fit for future generations.  Some of the greatest compliments paid by members of the congregation and visitors on entering the church when it re-opened, were to the effect that the ‘gracious and spiritual atmosphere of the church had been retained’.  Much credit for this work is due to the Conservation Architect, Ken Best, East Down Construction, and Barry Greenaway, a member of our Church who worked so hard as Project Manager.  Sincere appreciation also goes to the Heritage Lottery Fund for providing significant funding of over £140,000, which supplemented the £200, 000 raised by the parishioners.

A new banner was presented as a symbol of thanks for the ministry of Groomsport Church and Parish over a period of one hundred and seventy five years.  The beautiful banner had been hand-made by one of our Vestry members Kate Murray, along with Susan McNair and Eppie Bates.

Bishop Harold, in his re-dedication address noted that whilst many churches are shrinking, Groomsport is one which is growing.  Indeed, in observing that like Willowfield Parish, we are one of the few churches in the Diocese that is not named after a Saint, the Bishop suggested that it might be something which we as a Parish should consider for the future.

In his closing remarks our Rector extended thanks to the many members of the congregation and local community who have faithfully supported the work of the Parish over the recent restorative period.

At the end of the Service, Heather Pentland, Secretary of the Select Vestry paid tribute, on behalf of the Select Vestry, to the Rector, and to the way in which he has reinvigorated the Church, its congregation and its place in the Community.  Quoting from comments made by members of the congregation, she related how our Church, as a united family, has never been closer.  People are drawn to the Church by the humanity, the deep pastoral care and the approachability which Duncan demonstrates.  He relates as easily to the very young as to the elderly.   The Sunday school is growing and the congregation have been empowered to participate and share in the development and outreach of the church.  Something special is taking place in Groomsport Parish when people travel many miles to worship because of the quality of fellowship which they experience.  On behalf of the Select Vestry, Heather and Helen, the Rector’s Warden, presented the Rector with a specially commissioned painting of the refurbished building by local artist Adrain Margey.

Each member of the congregation, on moving out of the Church, towards the Church Hall for lunch, was provided with a lovingly prepared bag of ‘goodies’ including a beautiful Calendar depicting aspects of the Restored Church, a book mark, key ring, and prayer card all as gentle reminders of a very significant day in the life of Groomsport Parish.

People's Warden Hester Kelly, Rev Faith Cully, Bishop Harold Millar, Rev Duncan Pollock and Rector's Warden Helen Parkinson