St Helen’s on the High Street
A beautiful 15th century building occupying the earliest site of Christian worship in Worcester. Now, after a century of other uses, it once again houses a church community.
The Parish of St Helen’s was the wealthiest in the medieval city and this is reflected in the size of the church and the lack of surviving early fabric. The church consists of a nave and chancel flanked by full-length aisles, a west tower and south porch. Though extensively restored, it is largely a red sandstone building that retains its medieval appearance. For a more extensive and detailed look at the history of St Helen's a download is available here.
After a great fire in Worcester in 1113, the then Rector, Fritheric, gave all his tithes towards the repair of the church. The earliest surviving masonry is probably in the north chancel aisle, which was built to house a Chantry in 1288.
This image from 1764 shows church was as it was rebuilt in the Perpendicular style in about 1450. Fragments of the stonework of the Norman church were found during the Victorian restoration, indicating that by the twelfth century a stone church of large size occupied the site.
The Church in c.1879, before restoration.
During the Second World War St Helen’s was used as a soldiers’ club in conjunction with the YMCA. Use by the YMCA continued after the war until 1957.
In 1955, through an agreement between the Rector, the Bishop, and the County Council, St Helen’s Church was leased to the Diocesan Board of Finance for 50 years, terminating in December 2005. Thus, in 1957, St Helen’s became a branch of the Record Office as a repository for the County and Diocesan archives.
During the 1990s it became increasingly clear that the building could no longer match the standards of storage required and in 2001 the Record Office finally gave up its occupation of St Helen’s Church.
2003 - Present
Today St Helen's is managed and used weekly by the All Saints community, a vibrant Anglican church in the heart of Worcester. Weekly worship, children's groups and other events take place in the space.