Scarborough St Columba

Name: St Columba's

Date of Temple Moore Work: 1914; 1922–26

Work done: design (building work overseen and completed by L...

Church Description

An architectural gem conjured from the site of Scarborough's former rubbish dump.

St Columba's was designed by Temple Moore in 1914, but not built until after his death. As a legacy of its lowly former function, the site had a very awkward six-sided shape. It is a testimony to Moore's skill and Leslie Moore's sympathetic interpretation of his father-in-law's designs that, in spite of such constraints, the interior has a wonderfully calm and spacious feel to it.

Opening times:Please see for information. The church has disabled access.


Wide arches to the cleverly designed aisles give a classic Moore sense of balance to the space. You get a marvellous sensation of the interior unfolding before you as you walk in through door and along the aisle. The plan of the building is said to be shaped like a bird — columba is Latin for dove or pigeon, and the figure of the dove appears throughout the church. The figures over the altar are by Temple Moore's daughter Mary.

Scarborough has no shortage of gothic churches. GF Bodley, a leading Gothic Revivalist of the generation before Moore's, was responsible for All Saints' (1867–74) and St Martin on the Hill (1861–2). The latter has stained glass windows by the great Arts and Crafts designer William Morris and the pre-Raphaelite artists Ford Madox Brown, Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The parish church of Scarborough is a gothic original: St Mary's, a couple of streets from St Columba's on Castle Road. Its origins lie in the 12th century. The novelist Anne Bronte is buried in the churchyard.

Things to do nearby

Scarborough Castle

Castle Road YO11 1HY

01723 372451

In a dramatic location with panoramic views over the Yorkshire coastline, Scarborough Castle is well worth a visit, even if the breeze can be a bit bracing. It started life as an Iron Age Fort, was occupied by the Romans, became a Viking settlement and reached its heyday under Henry II. In the English Civil War, Royalist and Parliamentarian troops battled for possession of it and in the First World War it came under bombardment. Today it is in the care of English Heritage and members get in for free.

North Bay and South Bay

Scarborough was the first of Britain's seaside resorts, and it has weathered remarkably well: there's little of that distinctive down-at-heel atmosphere that afflicts many of our old seaside towns. The resort is divided into a North Bay and a South Bay by the rocky headland on which the castle stands. The North Bay is the quieter of the two. Its sandy beach is lined with beach chalets and there are a few cafes and shops close by. The Sealife Centre is to the north and Peasholm Park a short stroll away. The South Bay is the main focus for the town's tourist trade. Here you'll find the usual cafes, amusement arcades, theatres, entertainments and tat shops. Here, too, is where the surfers ply their craft. Okay, it's not Bondi Beach, but if you squint and ignore the brisk wind whistling up your wetsuit, you could almost imagine it was. Anyway, the surfing is excellent, and you can get decent fish'n'chips on the seafront afterwards.

Peasholm Park

North Bay

Oriental-themed park with streams, waterfalls, wooded glens and a large artificial boating lake. Lots of semi-tame wildlife, including an army of grey squirrels, so don't forget your peanuts!

Scarborough Art Gallery

The Crescent YO11 2PW

01723 374753

Scarborough's art gallery is in an Italianate villa in the Crescent Gardens. It houses a permanent collection on the ground floor and temporary and touring exhibitions upstairs.

Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre

Scarborough YO11 1NJ

01723 369361

Exhibition and information centre telling the story of Scarborough's relationship with the sea from Roman times to the present day. Entry is free.

Scarborough Sea Life and Marine Sanctuary

Scalby Mills Scarborough YO12 6RP

01723 373414

A glimpse beneath the waves with weird-looking sea creatures to admire and lots of hands-on stuff for the kids to do.

Rotunda Museum

Vernon Road YO11 2HB

01723 353665

The North York Moors is the cradle of the modern science of geology, thanks largely to William "Strata" Smith, one of its great 19th century pioneers. The Rotunda was built in 1829 to house his enormous collection of fossils and rock samples. It was refurbished and reopened in 2008 to huge acclaim. One of the most important small museums in Britain.

Stephen Joseph Theatre

Scarborough YO11 1JW

01723 370541

One of Britain's finest provincial theatres. Famous for its association with the playwright Alan Ayckbourn, who premiered his first play here and was the theatre's artistic director from 1972 to 2009.

Cloughton Wyke and Hayburn Wyke

On the coast north of Scarborough

The section of the Yorkshire coast north of Scarborough is one of the wildest and most unspoilt: becks tumble over shaggy cliffs into secretive harbours, rocky headlands jut out to sea, villages are few and far between, and the whole area has an undiscovered air. Cloughton and Hayburn Wykes each make a good focus for a visit. Wyke comes from vik, an Old Norse word meaning an inlet or bay where a boat can be landed. You can still imagine them drawing their longboats up on the shingle.

Bridlington and Filey

South of Scarborough

If Scarborough hasn't sated your appetite for kiss-me-quick seaside kitsch, waste no time in heading down the coast to Bridlington. Filey is quieter and less brash, an old fishing port with a more traditional feel to it. Nearby is a birdwatchers' paradise on the headlands of Filey Brigg and Flamborough Head, and Bempton Cliffs — the best place in England to see, hear and smell seabirds!

Where to eat and drink

The Valley

Valley Road YO11 2LX

01723 372593

Award-winning family-run pub in an ideal situation for the town centre. A short walk along Valley Road brings you to the South Bay beach. Listed as one of the Campaign for Real Ale's Great British Pubs and recently voted the best in the whole country for cider and perry. The food is excellent, too.


Huntriss Row YO11 2EF

01723 361033

With its adjoining chocolate shop making it doubly tempting, Bonnets is probably Scarborough's best cafe. Homemade cakes and light meals. You really need to try the hot chocolate.

The Glass House

Burniston Road YO12 6PF

01723 368791

Bistro offering freshly made meals and specialty theme nights.

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