There are hundreds of cities in the UK, yet London, Oxford and Edinburgh receive the majority of the tourists. On your next trip to Blighty (or for anyone already living here), try something a bit off the beaten path – Hull Minster, the largest parish church in England.
What is a parish church?
Christianity arrived in England in the 1st or 2nd century while it was part of the British Empire. The Church of England began with Henry VIII’s famous row with the Pope over his inability to divorce – so of course his solution was to separate the entire English church from Rome! A parish is just the name for a local administrative area as defined by the Church of England (although there are also Catholic parish churches). There are over 12,600 Church of England parishes.
Parish churches are simply the religious centre in that specific area. No cathedrals here – but Hull Minster might as well be, with its claim to fame as the largest parish church in England.
Sophie from Await Adventure is here to tell you all about it, including the church’s fascinating history in surviving the World Wars:
Hull Minster: the largest parish church in England
Historical significance of Hull Minster
With Hull Minster being over 700 years old, its age matches that of the city. King Edward I began the challenging task of creating this church, which has become the only church to have survived from the original ‘King’s Town’. Having outlasted both Zeppelin raids and Nazi bombings during both world wars, Hull Minster is one of the greatest churches from the English medieval period. It also baptised William Wilberforce – the man who led the parliamentary campaign against slavery!
During the First World War, June 1915 when the Zeppelins flew ahead and dropped a bomb close nearby. The church was saved by the fire services and a change in the wind direction. However, a year later in March 1916, the windows were damaged during another raid. The damage was soon rectified but left one window with a reminder of this time by taking a mosaic of glass from one of the damaged windows and adding it to the new.
Surviving the Second World War was not without struggle as Hull was one of the most bombed cities in England (due to its links to the port). The church acted as an air raid shelter for some time but then became a flight marker for German planes. An active team of ‘fire watches’ ensured the church was safe throughout.
Visiting Hull Minster
Previously known as Holy Trinity Church, it was recently re-dedicated as a minster by the Archbishop of York. As well as this re-dedication, it has also been undergoing a £4.5m regeneration project to the interior. It has recently re-opened and is available to the public from Monday to Sunday (10am to 4pm). It’s free entry so can just walk straight in and do some exploring of your own.
If there are people from the church there, they are always very welcoming and usually more than happy to show you around. If, however, you want to do a ‘Tower Tour’ to see the medieval structure up close as well as unrivalled views of the city, then these are available on select Thursday nights. To book, visit the Hull Box Office website.
Written by Sophie Atkinson
Sophie, a trainee journalist and travel blogger, runs Await Adventure. Her blog focuses on travel with a pinch of beauty and fashion. Based in Yorkshire, usually flitting between Leeds and Hull, she dedicates posts to locations both in England (the north!) as well as abroad.
Hull is one of the many cities in the UK that doesn’t attract much tourist attention – but as Sophie has shown, it’s worth a visit! Don’t miss a chance to see the largest parish church in England, but also check out the rest of Hull’s old town and the Wilberforce House Museum.
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