National Churches Trust grant to All Saints’, Antrim

Tuesday June 11th 2024

Archdeacon Stephen McBride, Vicar of Antrim, outside All Saints’ Parish Church.

The National Churches Trust has announced a grant of £34,985 for urgent tower repairs at All Saints’ Parish Church, Antrim, one of the oldest churches still in use in Northern Ireland.

Dating back to 1596, the Trust highlights All Saints’ as a ‘striking and rare example of Elizabethan architecture.’

The church tower, however, is crumbling and slivers of falling stone pose significant safety concerns to the congregation and community. If the stonework continues to deteriorate and action is not taken, these slivers could become bigger.

Failed rainwater goods – drainpipes and gutters – mean that the church tower has extensive water damage posing a severe risk to the heritage inside.

The National Churches Trust grant will allow urgent work to the carried out to All Saints’ tower.

On June 11, it was announced that the Grade A Listed church is to receive a share in a £1 million urgent funding pay-out from the National Churches Trust.  The £34,985 grant will mean the church is able to make urgent repairs to the south elevation of the tower to not only make the church safe again, but it will make the building watertight and weatherproof.

A dry building is 30 per cent easier to heat than a wet one, and so these important repairs will reduce the heating bills and help the church on its journey to become carbon neutral.

These essential repairs will help make the church a more welcoming space; this includes linking with Antrim and Newtownabbey Council’s walking tours and offering a tour around the church and graveyard as part of this.

The National Churches Trust is supporting the church to share its magnificent heritage and history of the church – including its beautiful stained glass windows that include a rare panel of early painted stained glass.

Claire Walker, Chief Executive of the National Churches Trust, said:  “The National Churches Trust is excited to be able to support All Saints’ Church to enable them to carry out urgent tower repairs to their building.

“This will safeguard the unique heritage of this ancient and historic church and keep it open and in use for the benefit of local people.

“Whether seeking quiet reflection, access to community services or a place to worship, the National Churches Trust helps hundreds of churches each year and with the support of local people, keeps them thriving today and tomorrow.” 

Archdeacon Stephen McBride beside the stone indicating the church dates back to 1596.

The Venerable Dr Stephen McBride, Vicar of Antrim Parish, said: “The reaction of our parishioners on St Patrick’s Day on learning of National Churches Trust most generous grant was overwhelming.

“All Saints’ Parish Church is not just the spiritual home to our parishioners; it is the town’s unofficial cathedral and has been the venue for our townspeople to gather together for important landmark occasions.

“To secure the future of this precious building is something close to the hearts not only of our parishioners but of all Antrim’s residents where our spire is one of the town’s focal architectural landmarks.”

The grant will allow the south transept roof to be re-tiled and the stonework replaced and repointed. Gutters and drainpipes will be resealed to protect against further water damage and leaks.

Interior of All Saints’, Antrim.

More about All Saints’ Parish Church  

Described by Dr Paul Larmour, one of Ireland’s leading architecture historians, as the finest example of Elizabethan Gothic in Ireland, the building is Grade A Listed and dates back to 1596.

The church was the spiritual home of the Clotworthy and Massereene families. A southern transept was added in by the Massereene family whose ancestral home was Antrim Castle. The tower and spire are later additions from around 1820.


There are several significant funerial monuments in the church including one by RA Flaxman, which is considered to be one of his finest.

The church has many stained glass windows of great quality, including a rare early panel featuring the martyrdom of St John the Baptist. There are several gun loops in the external wall.

The church is sited on an ancient burial ground which archaeologists have dated back to medieval times. The oldest gravestones, some of which have survived centuries of significant weathering, are dated from the early 1700s.

The most famous grave is that of Dr Alexander Irvine, author of My Lady of the Chimney Corner whose ashes were interred in 1946.

Beautiful stained glass in All Saints’, Antrim.



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