The first impression upon entering the main hall is “Wow!”. The apse, the semicircular recess behind the altar, contains truly impressive artwork. There is a depiction of each of the 12 apostles around the apse and a fresco on the curved ceiling of the crowning of Mary in heaven. The apostles were painted in the Victorian era on canvas and taken up and fixed to the wall, but the fresco was painted directly onto the ceiling by Henrich Immenkamp in the 1890s. Immenkamp was an Austrian immigrant in Hull and was also responsible for painting the scenes above the altar in the St. Charles Catholic Church in Hull.
St Mary and St Joseph Catholic Church was built in 1803 with a very plain exterior, reflecting the fact that Protestantism was the official religion and Catholic activity was very much restricted. Local Catholics had previously worshipped in secret and led an underground existence.
Another interesting feature is what our visit guide Tony Hay described as the “Touch Me Not” window. It is a beautiful stained-glass showing Jesus’ appearance to Mary Magdalen after the Resurrection. In August 1917 a bomb from a Zeppelin destroyed the nearby Primitive Methodist Chapel. The blast from the bomb blew in all the windows in the Catholic church with the exception of the “Touch Me Not” window. Of course, there were those who suggested the window had experienced a miraculous escape, but Tony said, in a disappointing tone of voice, that its survival probably had more to do with it being the only window that had been reinforced in the entire building.
Hedon Catholic Church is a beautiful building. It’s almost a secret gem in the town that deserves to be seen by more people. But of course, perhaps the easiest way to enjoy the church, as Tony suggests, is by attending a Saturday night service there.
With many thanks to Tony Hay for his wonderful knowledge and enthusiasm about Hedon Catholic Church.