Church of the Holy Trinity, Berwick-on-Tweed

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Holy Trinity Church, Berwick-on-Tweed
Holy Trinity Church, Berwick-on-Tweed
Coordinates: 55°46′19.04″N 2°0′2.2″W / 55.7719556°N 2.000611°W / 55.7719556; -2.000611
Location Berwick-upon-Tweed
Country England
Denomination Church of England
Dedication Holy Trinity
Parish Berwick Holy Trinity and St Mary
Deanery Norham
Archdeaconry Lindisfarne
Diocese Diocese of Newcastle

Berwick Parish Church is an Anglican church in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. Set in the heart of Berwick town centre, it was built around the time of Oliver Cromwell and, therefore has no steeple.


In 1641, King Charles I gave money to replace the dilapidated old church in Berwick. In the following year, however, the Civil War began. Despite this, more money was collected and stone for building the church was taken from the old Berwick Castle. In 1650 John Young of Blackfriars, a London mason, was contracted to build the new church, and by 1652 the church was complete. This makes it one of the very few churches to have been built during the Commonwealth of England; other examples include those at Staunton Harold and Ninekirks, and St Matthias Old Church in Poplar, London.

The design of the church is based on that of St Katherine Cree in London. It has a side aisle on each side of the nave, and the arcades are of the Tuscan order. Due to its being built in the Commonwealth period, the church was built with no chancel, altar, organ, tower or bells. However the church interior was surrounded by galleries on all four walls.

In 1660, two years after the Restoration of the Monarchy the church was consecrated by the Bishop of Durham, who demanded that a chancel should be built at the east end to accommodate a communion table. However, this did not happen until 1855 when the present chancel was built and many original Gothic windows were redesigned in the Classical style. The 1855 west window is particularly fine and includes 16th- and 17th-century Flemish roundels formerly in the private chapel of the Duke of Buckingham at Canons Park, Middlesex.


An organ was installed in 1773 by Byfield and Green of London, and a large rebuild took place in 1855 by Nicholson of Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1869 another rebuild was carried out by Harrison and Harrison when the organ was positioned either side of the west window in the west gallery. The north and south galleries were removed in 1905 and the organ was stripped from its position in the west gallery and moved to its present position in a specially built organ chamber to the north of the chancel by Harrison and Harrison. In 1928 the organ was thoroughly overhauled by Ingrams. In the late '70s a disastrous attempted restoration was carried out by the organist at that time. The organ continued to be used until the early 2000s when a Makin electronic organ was purchased as a temporary stop gap whilst funds were raised to restore the Harrison organ. In 2006 the organ restoration fund having reached £50,000 an Organ Restoration Group was formed to seek quotations from three restorers and Paul Ritchie, the former Diocesan Organ Adviser, was taken on as adviser to the group. Principal Pipe Organs of York have been contracted to restore the organ which will take place in 2010. A fund raising campaign for £160,000 to cover the cost of complete restoration and its future maintenance is now underway under the auspices of the Berwick Parish Church Trust by whom donations will be gratefully received. Indeed the organ has now been restored.

Current use[edit]

The interior facing east

The church forms the centre of a Christian community complex and it is used for concerts, recitals, lectures and other community functions. The parish centre is available to the community and is used extensively for meetings and social events. The wooded old churchyard is a natural nature reserve.

There is still no tower, so the bells of Berwick are rung from the 150-foot (45 m) high tower of the town hall.

Its churchyard was the main cemetery for the town until around the 1860s, when there was no longer enough room to take any more corpses. Berwick and its southern neighbour, Tweedmouth now have their own cemeteries.

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