St Patricks Old Church

St Patrick’s Church & Old Convent, Church Street, Whitby

In June 1886 an infant school was opened to the right of the entrance to the yard. This school was run by the Sisters of Mercy. Mass was said here on Sundays with the congregation sitting on the desks.

Through the generosity of Wilfred Turnbull, cottages on the left side of the yard were converted in 1930, to become St Patrick’s Church. A small sacristy was built onto the altar end of the building, which also served as a confessional.  Entry to the chapel from the yard  was up a couple of steps, through a vestibule, and right again; stairs led up  from the vestibule to a small gallery. Access was especially tight for funerals. The statue of Our Lady of Help, formerly in St Patrick’s, is now on the Lady altar in St Hilda’s. It is a copy of the original in Ushaw College, Durham, it was commissioned by Canon Bernard Lovelady, priest of St Patrick’s. 

The cottage nearest the road was not converted as it was thought it would be demolished for road-widening. The widening didn’t happen, and for a while the cottage became accommodation for retired priests, before being converted into a sacristy. St Patrick’s was made a separate parish by Bishop McClean in 1976 serving the East Side of Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay, Fylingthorpe and the villages on the east side of the River Esk. The first parish priest was the much-loved Father Joe McDonagh.

Declining numbers, clergy shortages and a  property which needed serious renovations, much of it caused by damp, prompted Bishop John Crowley to close the church in 2003. The last Mass was said there on December 28th 2003. A social centre in a neighbouring house was sold, and the chapel and presbytery were let to tenants.