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Durham Freemasons donate £1000 to Church restoration campaign

Durham Benevolence Ltd Robin Middleton donates funds to Holy Trinity Church restoration project co-ordinator Amanda Gerry

A £50,000 campaign to save a stained glass window of one a Wearside architectural treasures has been kicked off with its first donation.

The project to restore the display inside the Grade I listed Holy Trinity Church in the East End is set to officially launch next, week with a deadline of Christmas set.

Durham Benevolence Ltd donate funds to Holy Trinity Church restoration project

Durham Benevolence Limited, the charitable arm of the Province of Durham Freemasons, has become its first backer.

The group, whose Queen Street Temple a short distance away, discovered the window is dedicated to John Ritson, a member of its St John’s Lodge in Burdon Road.

Mr Ritson was a chemist and died in February 1857 aged 63.

The Freemasons say they are keen to back the restoration of the 1719 church as a neighbour and passionate supporters of the area’s heritage.

We’re all proud of Sunderland’s history and we hope many more people will get involved to help raise the £50,000.

Robin Middleton

A £3 million bid is due to be submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund in December in support of the redevelopment to turn the Church Street East building into a place the community can use again, with a focus on setting up a hub for musicians and artists.

The Churches Conservation Trust, which takes care of churches no longer used for worship, hopes the Canny Space project will be completed by 2021 to compliment the City of Culture award, should Wearside be a winner.

It has invited musician Dave Stewart to join as a creative director of the venue, currently deemed as one of the seven most valuable endangered sites in Europe by the trust.

Robin Middleton, who represents the Durham Benevolence Limited and is a member of the Queen Street Temple, said the Freemasons hope both will benefit from the Sunderland Heritage Action Zone.

The window which will be restored – once 50,000 is raised to preserve the display.

He said: “We’re delighted to be giving a grant of £1,000 to help fund the restoration of the historic piece of stained glass, especially as the windows are dedicated to Brother John Ritson.

“We’re all proud of Sunderland’s history and we hope many more people will get involved to help raise the £50,000.”

Anthony Bennett, development director for the trust, said: “The Heritage Lottery Fund has asked for a show that the people of Sunderland will use this place and so every Mackem penny that goes into this is a donation and will make a difference.”

More details can be found via

The blue plaque outside Holy Trinity Church.

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