History of the Building
St Mary’s Parish Church opened its doors on 28 November 1868 by the Right Rev Dr Knox, the Bishop of Connor, who consecrated and dedicated the building. The foundation stone was laid earlier by the Most Rev Marcus Gervais Beresford on 27 October 1865.The establishment of St Mary’s Church coincided with the first housing that sprang up on the Crumlin Road during 1860s to accommodate workers and their families, who were mainly employed in the flourishing linen mills. The Church was badly damaged by the Luftwaffe air raids during World War Two and needed extensive repairs once the war finished. The area then experienced further physical and social decline within the closure of the mills in the 1960s. In 1995, the Church of the Holy Redeemer closed for worship and its parishioners and its administration being reassigned to St Mary’s Parish. The church organ, which supposedly dates back to the founding of the church in 1868, was refurbished in August 2006 at the cost of £22,000.
Synopsis of the Building
St Mary’s Church was designed in the High Victorian Gothic by the London architect William Slater with a large central tower (known as a lantern tower. Slater oversaw the restoration of many churches during his career including the restoration of the Anglo-Saxon St Mary’s Priory Church (Deerhurst, Gloucestershire) and St Michael’s Church (Haselbech, Northamptonshire). It was designed to seat 800 parishioners and was built from Mourne granite and sandstone – costing £6,500. The five stained glass windows housed within the Sanctuary were presented to the Church by the Blakiston-Houston family.
In 2018, St Mary’s celebrated the 150th anniversary of its consecration and to celebrate this event a service of thanksgiving was held at the Church on 25 November 2018. The commemoration booklet was produced to inform its parishioners and visitors of its extensive history as well as the proceedings of the event.