St Mary's Episcopal Church, Hamilton, Scotland


In December 2014, the National Churches Trust awarded a £15,000 Community Grant to St Mary's Episcopal Church, Hamilton

The church of St Mary the Virgin, Hamilton in South Lanarkshire, was built by the brother of the first incumbent, the tractarian architect John Henderson in 1845, and the chancel was extended by his son George in 1872. It is of an early English style. The church was originally established largely by the officers of the 90th Regiment, 2nd Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) who were based at the then Hamilton Barracks. Two historic colours have been on display at the church for many years, were in a poor sate, and required relocation. There are many military memorials, including commemorative windows, and historic regimental colours displayed in the church.

This project, lead by architect Brian Foxley RIBA AABC, was the first major work to the premises since the First World War and involved re-slating the south nave roof, and re-pointing the sandstone masonry having removed cement based mortar and render. Also, an extension was built to connect the church to its hall bringing a new series of spaces that combine worship and community aspects of St. Mary's.

Project Challenges: Our main challenges related to the costs of the works. Tenders came in much higher than expected and additional fundraising had to be undertaken, as well as project savings found. The Project Development Group with the help of the Architect and Quantity Surveyor managed to deliver the project, although on a later timescale, and slightly amended.


  • Provided new and improved facilities for informal worship and community/charitable use while retaining the original gothic revival style
  • The project has acted a stimulus to the public engagement with the heritage of the church.
  • The new facilities provide a significant improvement in the facilities for the congregation and existing users.
  • The gathering space provides an informal worship space for activities such as "Messy Church"
  • Better facilities for exhibitions (an annual Christian Aid Art Exhibition has taken place over recent years)
  • New Cafe/Kitchen and Hall upgrading provide much better facilities.
  • A lift provides disabled access to all areas.
  • Improved offices & conference/meeting spaces are also provided on the first floor for the two charities operating from the church and others. 

New uses and users:

  • A new charity “St. Mary’s For All” manage the resources of the new building separately from the church management of mission and ministry
  • Circle Lanarkshire use the new office space on week days
  • Hamilton Child Contact Centre use the 1st Floor each Saturday
  • Women’s Aid, Hamilton use the 1st floor several times a week
  • Alcoholic Anonymous meet in the hall twice a week
  • Girl guides meet in the Hall and Guide Rangers in the Gathering Space on a weekly basis, as do Beavers, Cubs and Scouts
  • The church has a weekly choir, and several Bible study groups
  • Messy Church meets monthly in the Gathering Space and Café area.
  • Facilities are also used for meetings by the church Trustees

When we applied for funding we faced increasing costs of the project at a time when significant offers of funding were due to expire. It was a critical time and the funding we received, along with others at this time, enabled us to start the project on site before funding offers were lost. The National Churches Trust funding was therefore critical to achieving a completed project.