Chester church to celebrate 150th year

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A much loved Chester church will be celebrating an impressive anniversary on Sunday 16 June. The Parish Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Parkgate Road, Chester will be celebrating its 150th year since the laying of its Foundation Stone on April 6th 1869. The Victorian Church, which was originally a chapel to the cathedral later became a parish in its own right in 1881, and forms part of the ancient parish of St Oswald, Chester. The church has worshipped within the more catholic tradition of the Church of England since 1909 when the then Vicar Fr Harold Burdon introduced it. Since then, the church services have featured a long tradition of choral music alongside rich symbolism amidst the beautiful surroundings of the church interior. 

The church, situated between the University of Chester and the vibrant and inclusive Garden Quarter area, has served countless people during its history in times of sorrow and of joy, and continues to engage with its local community and church schools in a welcoming and open way, hosting the annual Garden Quarter Christmas Market, many concerts and cultural events as well as inviting a number of local projects and groups to use its buildings. 

Within the church grounds stands the newly restored Garden Quarter Community War Memorial which was vandalised some years ago. As part of the anniversary this will be re-dedicated during a special anniversary service by the Bishop of Chester at the church on Sunday 16th June which commences at 4pm. The service will also be attended by other local ministers, local councillors and people who belong to or are connected with the parsh, school or local Garden Quarter community. 

Father Steve Sheridan, currently priest-in-charge, since 2017, is hoping that all who might have had some connection with the church over the years may wish to come along and join in this service of celebration, which will be led musically by Matt Baker and Ian Thomas and the vibrant church choir. The ceremony will  involve a new musical piece, inspired by the children of Chester Blue Coat Primary School and composed written by Matt Baker.  

Co-musical director Matt Baker has been involved musically in the church for over 40 years. He said, “We have a terrific community here and a lovely choir made up of people of different ages and backgrounds, several of whom bring other musical talents to our services and social events. We are looking forward to celebrating this milestone with people from our community.” Ian Thomas, co-musical director added, “We actually have a copy of the order of service from 1869, and so we will include some of the music that would have been sung by our predecessors 150 years ago, whilst adding a wealth of music across the decades, including something that is still being composed!”. 

Fr Steve believes that this is a wonderful milestone in the life of the church. He said, 'The laying of a foundation stone to signal the beginning of a new church building back in 1869 was followed by building work which took a further three years; 150 years later, the church continues to lay important foundations through its mission and outreach, and we owe enormous gratitude to our founders for their vision.” Father Steve concludes, "All who wish to share in this celebration on June 16th will be warmly welcomed”. 

The Service of Celebration will take place at St Thomas of Canterbury Church, Parkgate Road on Sunday June 16 at 4pm followed by refreshments. All are welcome to attend. 


Page last updated: 12th Jun 2019 1:26 PM