site stats
canny spcae The Canny Space

of Here


Engage Sustain Why
Heritage and learning

This handsome brick and stone church was built in 1718-19, perhaps designed by William Etty, who certainly played a part in fitting out the interior. Once in a quiet situation on the edge of a lively and vigorous port; now it is once again surrounded by open spaces. In 1735 the apse and its 'Venetian' window were added, the west gallery and a new roof in about 1803, but many of the 1719 furnishings remain.

The interior is brightly lit through large clear windows and has many appealing features:

Recent comments

Mary Carey, 18 Apr 2014 - My ancestor was one of the men that commissioned the Crown to have the church built originally. The Moon family's history goes back to the 1600's as living in Sunderland, most of whom were Shipowners. I was born in Sunderland and was Christened in this beautiful church. I attended many services, with very large congregations.

Sue Collins, 27 Jan 2014 - Most of my ancestors worshiped at this church, back to the date of its foundation. I haven't lived in Sunderland for many years, but when we visit we stay with a lady very interested in family history and also local history. She arranged for us to have an individual tour by one of the people who now run the church. It is very beautiful and quite unusual, being from the early Georgian period. It is well worth a visit.

Local characters connected with the church

Jack Crawford

Crawford was born in Thornhill's Bank (now Pottery Bank) in the East End of Sunderland. He was a keelman until 1786 when, aged 11 or 12, he joined the crew of the Peggy at South Shields as an apprentice. In 1796, he was press-ganged into the Royal Navy and served on HMS Venerable under Admiral Duncan, the Royal Navy Commander-in-Chief of the North Seas. His gravestone in in the Holy Trinity ground and a plaque to him is on the wall inside the entrance.

More here >>

Jack "ironfist" Corsey

To his fans, he was "Cast Iron" Casey, the boxer no one could knock out, but he had a heart of gold – as shown by this great old picture passed on to us by his son John.

Although he was born in Southwick and lived in Bright Street, Roker, at the time of his death, Jack was the pride of the East End where he also lived for some time, a funeral service was held in Sunderland Parish Church of Holy Trinity in Church Street East.

More here >>

The 24 Vesterymen

The roots of Holy Trinity date to a 17th century industrial boom, when keel-boats lined the river, factories and timber-yards mushroomed and hundreds of people moved to the area.

“Pubs and shops sprang up, but the new town of Sunderland did not have a parish church. Worshippers had to walk to neighbouring Bishopwearmouth,” said historian Carol Roberton.

“So Sunderland’s 24 leading men decided to rectify this. In 1712 they got up a petition for a church and parish of their own, and this was finally agreed by an Act of Parliament in 1719.”

“It went on to become the first seat of local government, as well as the town’s first public library, a court and, of course, a place of worship. It was right at the heart of the community.”

Burke and Hare

The infamous body snatchers Burke and Hare made a trip to Sunderland in 1820, to ply their grisly trade, and in 1824, things got so bad Rector Gray ordered a deep ditch to be dug inside the perimeter wall.

Rvd Robert Gray

Rector of Sunderland from 1819, devoted his fortune and his life to the poor and was regarded by them almost as a saint. He paid for his love and devotion on 11th February 1838 when he died after falling victim to typhoid fever and such was the regard for him that 30,000 people attended his funeral.

A fine marble memorial with a 353-word inscription placed in the main porch

More here >>

roofimage taken from the church rooftop

Churches Trust online shop
Search for items in our shop by browsing the list, using the main search bar or choosing from one of the categories on the right hand side. Your shopping basket will fill up on the left. Shop online here >>>

Donate by text
Donate just £2, this would enable us to keep our churches open, safe and watertight for you and future generations to enjoy.

Text code 'OCCT05' to 70070 to donate now

Make a donation online
We are proud to protect one of the greatest collections of ecclesiastical architecture, art and archaeology in the world but we can not continue our work without your help. Donate here >>>

The Canny Space is the working project name for Holy Trinity Church, Church Street East, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR1 2BB.

sunderland allotments on facebook  churches trusttwittertumbler