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Seapatrick Parish can trace its history back to the 5th century when tradition has it that St Patrick camped overnight to rest on his journey from Downpatrick to Armagh. Christian worship has been offered in the area since then, and in 1837 the church in the village of Seapatrick was built, with Holy Trinity being built in 1882.
The name Seapatrick is a compilation of Suide Padruic meaning seat or resting place of Patrick and tradition suggests St Patrick paid regular visits, possibly as he journeyed between Saul or Downpatrick and Armagh.
Seapatrick Village (now really a suburb of Banbridge) was therefore the original centre of civilization and the original Parish Church, now a ruin, was located there.
Like most ancient churches in Ireland it bore the scars of successive periods of war and until the mid 17th century was probably the only church in the area. History would suggest that the Roman Catholics had ceased using it by 1630 but continued to use its graveyard for burials right through to the 19th century. It is recorded in journals as being in very poor condition in 1641, being refurbished in 1698 and in good condition in 1721.
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution at the beginning of the early nineteenth century and the introduction of linen production to the area by the Huguenots the population of the area increased dramatically. In those early days the only means of crossing the Bann River was a ford at the bottom of Kiln Lane some half mile from Seapatrick Village. Also about this time a Mail Coach run between Belfast and Dublin was introduced. In order to facilitate this new means of transport and communication, it was decided to build a bridge over the Bann River. Engineering surveys determined that this should be located a distance of a mile below Seapatrick Village and some half mile below the existing ford. In due time housing gravitated around the bridge and hence the town of Banbridge was born.
The new relocated Parish Church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity was consecrated on 7th November 1837. From 1609 until 1837 the incumbent of Seapatrick Parish had been called “Vicar of Seapatrick” and also “Dean of Dromore”.
In 1821, due to the poor condition of the parish church in the village of Seapatrick, it was felt necessary to build a new one. Due to the bourgeoning developments around the bridge and restrictions posed by existing graves etc on the original site, relocation to a new green field area offered by the Marquis of Downshire beside the new bridge over the Bann was mooted. The proposal faced stiff opposition for a variety of reasons ranging from money to traditionalism and due to the poor economic circumstances of the time was not eventually carried until 1833.
The new relocated Parish Church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity was consecrated on 7th November 1837. From 1609 until 1837 the incumbent of Seapatrick Parish had been called “Vicar of Seapatrick” and also “Dean of Dromore”. The then incumbent Rev Daniel Dickinson ceased to be Dean and became Rector of Seapatrick. He was Vicar and Dean from 1832-37 and Rector from 1837-70 a ministry of thirty eight years. He is the parish’s longest serving Rector and third longest incumbent.
In 1837 times were hard. The local workhouse was built in 1841 and the Potato Famine (1846-1848) and emigration decimated the population of Ireland in the succeeding years. In 1847 the Old Parish Church at Seapatrick village was sold to a local mill owner and vestry member Fredrick Hayes for £25. Two men were employed to demolish it and use the stone to build a wall around the graveyard to protect it from grave robbers. Only one gable of the old church exists today.
The Disestablishment of the Church of Ireland separating it from the Church of England and making it an autonomous Anglican Communion took place in 1869 with effect from 1st January 1871. In 1880 less than fifty years after the relocation of their treasured Parish Church the residents of Seapatrick gained some consolation with the refurbishment of the nearby disused schoolhouse into a Chapel of Ease seating 100 people and dedicated to St Patrick. St Patrick’s Church was consecrated for worship in 1882 and has maintained this tradition of worship in Seapatrick Village with a weekly service ever since.
In 1883 it became necessary to enlarge the new Parish Church in Banbridge. Its roof was raised six feet and transepts added to accommodate 800 people. In 1887, on the Church’s 50th anniversary, the Bishop confirmed 300 young people. This remains a record for the diocese. Building work has continued to modern day as we seek to restore and preserve the church for future generations. In 2010 the crooked spire was straightened, a not inconsiderable task was set by the then Rector. Archdeacon John Scott challenged the parishioners to raise £200,000 in one year, and less than 11 months later the money was raised, the building work was complete and the spire was paid for. Today “Holy Trinity” continues to flourish, as we hope you will see from this website, and to maintain the emphasis on people rather than on bricks and mortar.
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Venerable Roderic West is the Rector of Seapatrick Parish. He is the current Archdeacon of Dromore, having served in Dromore as Curate, and Rector in both Millisle & Carrowdore, and Moira before his appointment with us here in Banbridge in April 2012.
Roderic can be contacted using the information below:
Ven Roderic West, 63 Lurgan Road, Banbridge BT32 4LY
Telephone 028 4062 2744 (Parish Office) or 028 4062 2612 (the Rectory)
Church Army Officer
Captain Geoffrey Walmsley is a Church Army Officer and has been with us in Seapatrick Parish since 2005. He is married to Christine and has four children, Thomas, Sarah, Grace and Chloe.
Geoffrey is our Church Army Pastoral Assistant, and is very approchable and friendly - always willing to lend an ear for any pastoral issue. If you need to contact him, please use the following information:
Capt. G Walmsley, 16 Bannview Heights, Banbridge BT32 4LZ
Telephone 028 4062 2744 (Parish Office) or 028 4062 8303
Esther Wheeler is our Parish Administrator and can be contacted every weekday from 10am - 1pm.
She can be contacted at the Parish Office on 082 4062 2744
Trevor Anderson is the Verger / Sexton of Seapatrick Parish Church and looks after the general upkeep of the Holy Trinity Church, Parish Hall and grounds. He has been with us for over 25 years.
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