Grimsby Minster

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Grimsby Minster
The Minster and Parish Church
of St James, Grimsby
St. James' Church, Grimsby.jpg
53°33′50″N 0°05′22″W / 53.563792°N 0.089360°W / 53.563792; -0.089360Coordinates: 53°33′50″N 0°05′22″W / 53.563792°N 0.089360°W / 53.563792; -0.089360
Location Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire
Country England
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Central
Status Parish Church
Dedication James, son of Zebedee
Past bishop(s) Rt Rev David Tustin, Rt Rev David Rossdale
Functional status Active
Heritage designation Grade I listed building
Parish Grimsby
Deanery Grimsby
Archdeaconry Stow & Lindsey
Diocese Lincoln
Province Canterbury
Bishop(s) David Court
Rector Andrew Dodd
Vicar(s) Katherine Farrell
Asst Curate(s) Mark Hutson
Deacon(s) Pat Barlow, Jan Vasey
Organist/Director of music Steven Maxson

Grimsby Minster is a minster and parish church located in Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, England. Dedicated to St James, the church belongs to the Church of England and is within the Diocese of Lincoln.


In 1114, an existing religious building was transferred to Robert Bloet, the Bishop of Lincoln. The following years he supervised many renovations and developments to the building, resulting in St James, a church containing a nave with six bays. The central tower was added in 1365. In 1586 St James became the parish church of Grimsby, after John Whitgift united the parishes of St James and St Mary's. The parish church of the latter had been located on Victoria Street.

In 1856 Canon Ainslie began a complete restoration of St James, which included lengthening the chancel and the rebuilding of the South transept. Later works included the installation of new windows with stone tracery, and the installation of new oak roofs. The next key event in the history of the church, was the opening of the James College in 1883. The predecessor of today's St James' School, it was founded by Canon Young. It was the only choir school in the UK to be attached to a parish church until the restructuring of the choir in September 2013 by Anthony Pinel, opening membership of the choir to boys and girls from any local school.[1]

The news that the church was to be granted minster status was announced in the Grimsby Telegraph on 15 April 2010.[2] The Minster-making ceremony took place on Sunday, 16 May 2010 and was led by the Lord Bishop of Lincoln, and the Bishop of Grimsby. The Mayor of North East Lincolnshire, Councillor John Colebrook, accepted the official declaration of Minster status on behalf of the Borough.

Parish structure

The Parish of St Mary and St James includes three other churches:

  • St Hugh's Church, Grimsby
  • St Martin's Church, Grimsby
  • St Mark's Church, Grimsby

These were all built as 'daughter churches' of St James, and are now known as 'district churches'. The four churches form one parish with one Parochial church council.


Memorial erected to the memory of the 810 members of the 10th (Service) Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment ("Grimsby Chums") who were killed in action or died on service in WWI

The church has two pipe organs. The West End Organ is by J. W. Walker & Sons Ltd and dates from 1951, built to replace an earlier instrument destroyed by enemy action during World War II. Parts of the pre-war instrument were incorporated within the new organ, notably soundboards and some pedal pipes. A specification and pictures of the organ can be see on the National Pipe Organ Register. The Walker organ was rebuilt by J. W. Walker in 1976, with significant tonal modifications being made at this time.

Given the significant distance between the West End of the Church and the Choir, a second organ was installed on the North Side of the Choir in the 1970s, by Johnson. This two manual and pedal instrument is used for choral services to accompany the Choir. The specification and photographs of this instrument, too, can be found on the National Pipe Organ Register.


Former organists include

  • Edwin Brammer ca. 1872[3]
  • James Forbes Carter ca. 1896[4]
  • John Stanley Robson 1924[5] – 1953
  • Eric Arthur Conningsby 1954 – 1955 (formerly organist of Llandaff Cathedral)
  • Dennis Townhill 1956 – 1961
  • Martin How 1961 – 1964
  • Michael Dudman 1964 – 1968
  • Robert Walker 1968 – 1973
  • Christopher Weaver 1974 – 1979
  • Andrew Brade 1979 - 1981
  • Patrick Larley 1982 – 1987
  • Andrew Shaw 1987 – 1993
  • Andrew Cantrill 1994 – 1996
  • Steven Maxson 1997 – 2003
  • Adrian Roberts 2003 – 2006
  • Anthony Pinel 2006 – 2014
  • Steven Maxson 2014 -

Assistant organists

  • E Charles Hopkins 1956 – c1958
  • Philip Cave 1968–1971
  • Anthony Marwood 1971-
  • Andrew Brade 1977 - 1979
  • Stephen Maltby 1979 – 1982
  • Barry Whitfield 1991 – 2006
  • Steven Maxson 2006 – 2014


Grimsby Minster was known for being the only parish church in England to have its own choir school, St James' School. The school was founded in 1880 as St James' Choir School by Canon James Peter Young to educate choirboys and it is now a co-educational school of the Woodard Corporation.

Since September 2013, instituted by organist Anthony Pinel, choristers have been drawn from across the county of North East Lincolnshire and membership of the choir is now open to girls as well as boys for the first time since the parish choir, instituted by Steven Maxson, was disbanded in late 2003. Choristers and choral scholars are currently drawn from eleven schools and colleges.

A major recruitment drive is currently under way in order to restore the minster choir to its former glory, albeit now as a truly inclusive group open to all who would benefit from the musical education offered. It is hoped that there will soon be two treble sections, each singing two weekly choral services. The Choir is a delivery partner with the local Music Education Hub: North East Lincolnshire Music and Performing Arts Service (MAPAS).


The Minster has 10 bells hung for normal full-circle ringing. They weigh a total of 4.3 tonnes, the tenor (the largest bell) weighing 18.25cwt and having a diameter of 4 feet. They are tuned to the key of E flat. They date from 1830 when three of them were cast by William Dobson, and several bellfounders have cast the rest since then, including John Taylor & Co and John Warner & Sons, the newest bells (the two lightest) being cast in 1962 by Mears and Stainbank. Frank Kennington (born 26 December 1933) was taught to ring at the Minster in 1945 by his father and became Tower Captain in 1955. He gave up the post in 2012 after 57 years because the stairs leading to the ringing room were getting too much for him.


  1. ^ Extract from Lincolnshire Life Magazine
  2. ^ "St James' Church to be granted minster status", Grimsby Telegraph, 15 April 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2014
  3. ^ White's History, Gazetteer & Directory of Lincolnshire, 1872, p.208
  4. ^ Kelly's Directory of Lincolnshire, 1896, p.234
  5. ^ Who's Who in Music. Shaw Publishing Co. Ltd. London. First Post-War Edition 1949–50

External links

  • Historic England. "Details from listed building database (1379386)". National Heritage List for England.
  • Photographs of Grimsby Parish Church
  • Grimsby Parish Church group on Flickr
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