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The Rev. Robert Henning-Parr,
vicar of St. Martin' s 1863-1888

Below: All Saints Church, Falsgrave, Scarborough, the sister church of St. Martin's, was also largely financed by Mary Craven.

All Saints Church Falsgrave

Read Miss Mary Craven's Letter to The Scarborough Gazette 18th June 1861

George Frederick Bodley George Frederick Bodley George F. Bodley

Mary Craven Mary Craven Mary Craven 1814-89

Miss Mary Craven (1814 - 1889)Mary Craven's seat

Miss Mary Craven was one of the four daughters of Robert Martin Craven, a wealthy Hull surgeon who had retired to a house at 5, Esplanade, Scarborough, and who had died on 2nd January 1859.

Miss Mary Craven has already donated £1000 towards the building of the church, and she now guaranteed to add the necessary money to cover the full £6000 estimated as the building costs. In the end she lavished well over £10 000 on the church, which is the equivalent of about £500,000 today.

Miss Mary Craven saw the new church as a memorial to her father and the dedication to St. Martin of Tours was chosen by her as his name-saint.

She was responsible for more than the financing of the church. Her family connection with Hull led to the appointment of the first vicar of St. Martins, the Rev. Robert Henning Parr, and she may have been responsible for the selection of an architect for the new church, George Frederick Bodley, who was the son of a Hull physician.

What sort of a person was Mary Craven? She remained a spinster for all of her life, and besides lavishing money on St. Martin's Church she also provided money for the church of All Saints on Falsgrave (now demolished), St. Martin's vicarage, and St. Martin's Grammar School  (£1,000) at 60 Ramshill Road.

She had her own special seat in the nave of the church from which she could easily observe the proceedings in the chancel, which remained unscreened until after her death. She seems to have been prone to nervous illness and some minor eccentricities.

A good example of this is recorded in The Book of Scarborough Spaw by Meredith Whitaker (1984) in which he records from the 1870 records of the Spaw Committee: "When Miss Mary Craven, a respected and substantial citizen of the South Cliff, who had provided most of the money to build St. Martin's Church, was caught 'purloining flowers from the grounds' she was threatened with proceedings if there was any repetition"

She also had a strong enthusiasm for the royal family at a time when the monarchy was generally unpopular with the majority of people. There is of evidence of this through her lavish donations of stained glass windows to thank God for the recovery of The Prince of Wales from typhoid, which he apparently caught when visiting Lord Londsborough in Scarborough, 1871.

What did she look like? As yet we have not been able to find a photograph of her despite the existance of Oliver Sarony's famous photographic studios which were built prior to the church on an adjacent plot of land.

However, a recent publication on George Frederick Bodley by Michael Hall (2015) does identify Mary in a sketch by John Dinsdale in his book Sketches of Scarborough (1881):

St. Martin's Belles: a sketch by John Dinsdale 1881 St. Martin's Belles by John Dinsdale 1881

Hall writes: This depiction of the congregation emerging from the church plays on popular preconceptions of the Anglo-Catholic laity as upper class and predominantly female. The imperious figure on the right is probably Mary Craven who largely paid for the church.

She died, aged seventy-five, in March 1889. The report of her funeral, held in St. Martin's church, talks of a large congregation and very numerous wreathes. The body was taken by train to Hull, and buried in the Craven Family Vault in the Church of Sculcoates. Next