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Over the years generous gifts have been incorporated into the building, to enhance its beauty and function, including in recent years both craftsman-designed wooden aumbry and also an artist/blacksmith-made ironwork votive candlestand. "The Cathedral of the Arts and Crafts Movement" continues as a community church which is part of a living tradition of art and creativity.
The prosperity of Sunderland at the turn of the 20th century, the growth of the shipbuilding industry and the improvement of the docks led to considerable urban development and the establishment of new suburbs. One of these was Roker, centred on the public park and the scenic potential of the coast. Another was the village of Fulwell, an older but expanding area served by a mission church - now long demolished, all of which led to the proposal to build a new church.
In 1903 the Roker and Fulwell New Church Committee was established to raise money for a new church. A public appeal was launched and the Diocese approached about dividing the existing parish of Monkwearmouth.
A Lych Gate was added to the south east corner of the site as a War Memorial in 1920 and in 1927/28, a large Parish Hall was added to the west end of the church. In 1927 alterations were made to the interior when the mural, painted by Macdonald Gill, based on Prior's original drawings , was finally added to the Sanctuary. A peal of bells was added in 1948 after the second World War, as a memorial to those killed in that conflict.
The appeal for funds was only partly successful and in 1904, Mr. John Priestman, a wealthy local shipyard owner and businessman, offered to become the church's patron and principal benefactor. His family had at that time been considering making a memorial to their mother, Jane Priestman, and he promised £6000, with certain conditions, for the erection of the new church. Priestman, a man of radical taste and strong individualism, was likely introduced to the architect and academic, Edward Prior, by Dr Handley Moule, Bishop of Durham. Priestman and Prior met, made some agreement about the church's design, and by the end of 1905 final drawings had been completed, plans approved and a site for the church provided. Diocesan agreement about the division of the existing parish granted in 1906, the foundations of the new church were laid, and the completed building was dedicated in June 1907.
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