Parish History/Virtual Tour

Archaeologists tell us that the ancient church of Antrim was situated in the townland of Steeple near the Round Tower, but the present church building was built in 1596 according to the date inscribed on the corner stone and this makes All Saints the third oldest church building in the Diocese of Connor and is one of the finest examples of Elizabethan architecture in Ireland.

The church building in the 1600s consisted of the main body of the church (the nave) and the Massereene Pew, where the Massereene family worshipped. The building was largely untouched until1816 when a sum of £1,600 was borrowed from the Board of First Fruits for the purpose of enlarging the church. The money was used to build the imposing lofty embattled tower and octagonal spire. The door way, which was originally on the north side of the building, was relocated to its present position. Antrim Churchyard was a strategic landmark during the Battle of Antrim in 1798 and the original door was hit several times during the Battle. The door was removed to Antrim castle where it was put on display, but unfortunately it perished in the fire that also destroyed the castle.

In 1869 a new transept for the choir and a vestry, where the clergy could robe, were built by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and in 1870 the magnificent east window depicting ten scenes from the life of Christ in Holy Week with Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and ascension vividly illustrated, was put in place.

The Massereene family has donated many generous gifts to All Saints’ parish church and these include several imposing funerial memorials to deceased members of the Massereene family. On reading the inscriptions, one can see how many of Antrim’s familiar place names were derived from this family. Other gifts from parishioners include the beautiful stone pulpit given by the parishioners in memory of the Rev J G Holmes and the Holy Table is a gift in memory of Dean Maurice Collis, the parish’s longest serving vicar. Week by week the parishioners in Antrim use vessels for the Holy Communion which date back to 1701 and were the gift of Madam Abigail Parnell, a friend of the Massereene Family.

All Saints’ Parish Church is a very special focal point for the Church of Ireland people in Antrim who have lovingly cared for its furnishings and fabric over many generations. It is also a well loved landmark for the wider community in the town of Antrim and we hope that it will continue to be a special place for many more generations in the future.