No place is more essential to visit than Holy Trinity Church to appreciate fully the heritage of our great city. Indeed, it has been said that Hull’s history is written in its walls.
Late in the 13th Century when Edward I granted the former settlement of Wyke a Royal Charter and re-named it Kingston upon Hull, he planned a new fortified town and, amid its grid-like streets, a massive church – Holy Trinity.
The church is therefore as old as the city itself. It has witnessed Hull’s terrors and triumphs. It was divided during the English Civil War, bombed in the First World War and, miraculously, spared in Hull’s nightmare Blitz of World War Two.
Today it stands proud as England’s largest parish church by area and a repository of so much of Hull’s extraordinary heritage.
Hull’s greatest son, the abolitionist William Wilberforce, was baptised in the font which is still used regularly for Christenings; the 17th poet Andrew Marvell worshipped here; and the church is proud to be home to tributes to the city’s war dead and some of the many thousands from Hull lost at sea.
Holy Trinity is the place where many in Hull gather for moments of solemnity, celebration and grand civic services. It is a place where people come to worship God and seek moments of peaceful reflection, or to revel in its grandeur. Its impact is jaw-dropping – it is simply an amazing place.
Our history is amazing, but so too is what is happening to ensure Holy Trinity is as relevant now to the life of Hull as it has ever been.
Not many years ago our congregations had dwindled, but now Holy Trinity has revived. Our services are swelled by newcomers; we are reaching out to the community in new ways; and this majestic building has found new uses as a place for concerts and cultural events, even beer festivals. Holy Trinity is being re-discovered as Hull’s most magnificent space. It is an amazing gift from our forebears and one that we are determined to treasure and pass on to future generations.
Hull’s history is contained within these grand walls and huge stained-glass windows, but we want this amazing space to be at the centre of the city’s life today and into future, as a gathering place and a beacon of renewal, just as Edward I imagined it would be.
We invite the people of our city and beyond to step through the doors of Holy Trinity during the Heritage Open Days to experience and appreciate a place without equal in our wonderful city.
Come to marvel at a huge structure still standing in remarkable condition more than 700 years after Edward’s finest masons began the enormous task of erecting one of the greatest churches of its time, copying a number of the features of St Chapelle in Paris, the finest royal chapel to be built in France and now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Holy Trinity’s architectural merit is extraordinary. Professor Christopher Wilson of the Courtauld Institute has described it as the most significant example of its type, as it provided the pattern for all subsequent ambitious parish church buildings during the Perpendicular period.
Remarkable history is everywhere here. Our chancel is said to be modelled on the Church of the Grey Friars in London, where Edward had a mausoleum built for his beloved Queen Eleanor, while the nave was constructed later by the de la Pole family, examples of a new class of wealthy merchants.
At Holy Trinity you can see the font where Wilberforce was baptised and view a written record of that event.
You can see memorials to Hull’s fallen in two World Wars and other conflicts, including the official record of those lost in the Great War. A new addition is the bell of the Norland ferry, which crossed the North Sea from Hull to Rotterdam, and was used as a troopship in the Falklands War.
There are memorials too to the many Hull lives lost at sea, including plaques commemorating the Triple Trawler Tragedy of 1968, which claimed 58 crewmen within three weeks.
Holy Trinity’s heritage is Hull’s heritage. In fact, Hull’s three crowns civic symbol almost certainly represents the Holy Trinity. Our story is Hull’s story. We would be delighted to share it with you.