Anonymous donor gives whacking £5.9m to York church

Inside St Michael-le-Belfrey. Photographs: Richard McDougall
27 Jan 2020 @ 7.49 am
| Environment

A York church is nearly £6 million better off – thanks to the phenomenal generosity of one person.

Leaders at St Michael le Belfrey Church are thanking ‘the phenomenal provision of God’ after the £5.9 million gift from someone who wishes to remain anonymous.

The money will go to fund a major repair and reordering project currently estimated between £5 millon and £7 million.


Specifically the gift will help St Michael le Belfrey:

  • expand its mission to share the Christian faith, serve young people, support the vulnerable in the city and develop future church leaders who can move on to plant new churches in the north
  • undertake a comprehensive programme of repairs which preserves a nationally significant building for future generations
  • restore and reorder a building which will create a stunning city centre venue that not only benefits visitors but York’s residents and businesses.

Astounded by the generosity

St Michael le Belfrey Church
“When I received the news, it is fair to say that I was astounded by the generosity of this gift and the phenomenal provision of God,” said Matthew Porter, vicar of the Belfrey, adding:

  • To know that we can go ahead with the building restoration in the knowledge that most, if not all, of the funding is in place is both a privilege and a responsibility.

    It’s important that we create a space which will benefit many people and supports our vision. It’s wonderful to know that this releases us as a church to consider other priorities which require our finances.


The building project includes substantial repairs to the fabric including stonework, stained glass and a new roof, alongside a significant reordering particularly to the interior, “to make it more flexible for the worship and mission of a 21st century church”.

St Michael le Belfrey date back to 1525. It was here that Guy Fawkes was baptised. Today it is a resource church for York Diocese which means it will help train and develop new leaders, help revitalise old churches and plant new ones in York and further afield.

The benefactor, who wishes to remain anonymous, approached Matthew in summer 2019 to share their support of the vision to reorder the church building and plant new churches.

We first reported in January 2019 of a £3.5 million renovation project at St Michael le Belfrey Church, to replace the roof, rebuild the bell tower, and reorganise the interior.