St Columba's United Reformed Church

St Columbas Church, 2009

St Columba's is slightly off the beaten track on Priory Street, near Micklegate Bar.  The foundation stone of this church was laid in January 1879 and the first service was held in November of the same year.

The building was designed to hold 700 worshippers and reflects the rapid growth of the population of the city at that time.  York was a booming railway centre and a garrison town that attracted large numbers of Scottish and Irish workers, many of whom had a strong Presbyterian background.

Originally the building had a tower but this was removed in 1949.  Luckily, some of the fine cast-iron railings remain.  In 1881 a harmonium was installed to accompany the singing; this was replaced in 1907 by a pipe organ.

The first minister of the church was Reverend James Collie, whose family presented the church with three stained glass windows after his death in 1912.  Two of these windows bear the badges of Scottish regiments.

The church’s strong Scottish connection is reflected in its name: St Columba was the Celtic saint, based on the island of Iona, who converted much of Scotland and Northern England to Christianity in the 6th century.


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