Enjoy a tour of our ancient church and charming market town with a lovely local lunch.
Known affectionately as The King of Holderness, St Augustine’s stands proudly protecting the quaint Georgian town of Hedon.
This popular tour explores the historic market town’s rich heritage from its status as an important port to being home of the UKs shortest reigning MP, who lasted just one day!
Not for nothing is St Augustine’s known as the King of Holderness; it is an imposing building with a footprint of nearly 10,000 square feet, sited on raised ground in a conservation area, and is Grade I listed. The church has a cruciform structure with a central bell tower. It is a good example of Early English Gothic architecture, parts of the structure probably dating from around 1190, or possibly slightly earlier. Restoration work to some parts was carried out between 1867 and 1868, under the supervision of GE Street. It is a functioning church, still used for worship at least twice a week.
The church tour traces the building’s development and change over the centuries, including evidence of the Chapel of Saint Mary, now long demolished, in the chancel, which many worshippers find the most spiritually uplifting area of the building. You’ll marvel at the beautiful Meisson tiles on the chancel and sanctuary floors, appreciate the grace and sturdiness of the craftsman made Victorian choir stalls, and hear the unusual story of the stained glass window in the east wall. You’ll speculate on the purpose of the blank arcade low on the north wall of the chancel, and wonder with us whether the 13th century stone effigy in front of it really is of William le Gros, a Seignior of Holderness, whose family was linked with William the Conqueror’s family.
We’ll gather round the font, and you’ll hear about local ‘characters’ who were baptised there, some of whom are also buried in the churchyard, and feature in our records of baptisms, marriages and burials. We’ll also visit the vestry for a look ‘behind the scenes’, and you’ll appreciate the ornate stonework as well as having a glimpse of Victorian society provided by the benefactors' board.
You’ll also have the rare privilege of viewing the original coats of arms of Elizabeth I (1584) and George II (1741), which are in the north transept, also with a baroque cartouche in memory of Ann Watson, a local benefactress, whose charitable fund supports local people to this day. There will also be an opportunity to view fabric believed to have originally formed part of the drapery used in Westminster Abbey during the coronation of Elizabeth II.
The lower part of the tower dates from around 1200, and the upper part from 1428. It includes what is believed to be a medieval urinal! You’ll be led up the narrow spiral staircase to the ringing chamber (still used each Sunday) which houses a small exhibition of old church photographs and artefacts. From there you’ll go onwards and upwards to the bell chamber to view the eight bells and the ringing mechanism, as well as the clock mechanism.
On the roof, there’s be plenty of time to enjoy the panoramic views of Hedon and the surrounding district and to take photographs, before returning to the north transept.
Notes: The tower tour requires sensible footwear, since the steps are worn, and is only suitable for physically able people between the ages of 10 and 80. The church floor has several steps, and the floor is uneven in places, with a grill in front of the west door. Please dress appropriately and take care.
Founded in 1130, Hedon has historical importance and interest out of proportion to its size. It became a prosperous port: in the mid 1100s King Stephen ordered a Royal Mint to be established, and in 1158 Hedon acquired its first Royal Charter, giving its burgesses privileges equivalent to those of York. The 1348 charter enabled it to elect a mayor and other officials, and the mayoral office is maintained to this day. For many years, Hedon returned two MPs, and it has been said that, with regular elections, burgesses could live on the proceeds of selling their votes.
Find the site of the ancient bullring in the still-operational Georgian market place. In the Town Hall (1692), notice the barred windows of the old prison cell, and examine the portraits of former mayors and MPs. In the mayor’s tiny parlour, be taken back centuries by fragments of the town’s charters. Pass the Shakespeare Inn, site of much skulduggery in the town’s ‘rotten borough days’, and hear the story of Painters’ Cottage (1562), and other charming houses. Don’t miss the Roman Catholic church of St Mary and Saint Joseph, which looks like a house, because it predates Catholic emancipation, and be enchanted by the romantic story of the Kilnsea cross.
The tour also includes a visit to Hedon Museum and lunch.
This tour is exclusive to ExploreChurches.
This tour is organised and managed by St Augustine, Hedon.
It's great for beginners.
Our usual start time is 11am and the tour (with lunch) lasts 5 hours. However, as this tour is designed for groups timings could be changed by arrangement.
Facilities & refreshments
Toilets are in the church and at a lunch venue.
Please give 48 hours notice of any specific dietary requirements.
There is limited on street parking outside the church and two free car parks within 100m. There is room for coach drop off and pick up outside the church but there is no coach parking in Hedon. Coach parking is available in Hull, approximately 6 miles away.
Not suitable for children under 10, but is great for families with children over this age. There is a children's area in church, which can be used to entertain younger children by arrangement, please contact us if you would like to discuss.
Wheelchair users and those with more limited mobility will find it easier to use the south and north gates and walk round the church to the west door, since there are steps between the west gate and the door.
Reasonable agility is needed for the tower tour described, the tower has a stone spiral staircase which is rather worn. Appropriate footwear must be worn. Visitors unable to take part in the tower tours might like to view the transcripts of our registers.
The church floor has several steps, and the floor is uneven in places, with a grill in front of the west door. Please dress appropriately and take care. If you are unable to climb any steps, the chancel can be appreciated and the commentary heard from the area under the tower.
The town tour involves walking approximately one mile, in short stages, and there are some gentle inclines.