Church of Ireland move from the old News Letter building in Donegall Street Belfast
The prestigious city centre property, which has been in church ownership since September 1996, was used by the church to accomodate administrative staff for 27 years from both the Connor and Down and Dromore dioceses, as well as from the various church statutory bodies.
These church staff moved to premises at the Titanic Centre in East Belfast on August 1, but the Church of Ireland has so far declined to confirm on the sale details of the Donegall Street building.
The church was in a modern 20th century annex to the ornate Donegall Street building that has important historical resonances with its long connection to the Belfast News Letter, the world's oldest English-written newspaper, established in September, 1737 The paper had been previously located at nearby Bridge Street, at the 'Sign of the Peacock'.
The News Letter moved to the Donegall Street premises in 1874. It was one of a number of Northern Ireland daily newspapers located in the Donegall Street area, along with The Irish News and the Belfast Telegraph. This Victorian gothic sandstone B1 listed building was designed by acclaimed architect of his day William Hastings, who designed other landmark buildings in the city.
As the needs of the News Letter expanded in the post war decades it expanded into the modern annex, which was later sold separately from the old original building that it adjoined when the newspaper departed from Donegall Street to a business site at Boucher Crescent in south Belfast in the early 1990s, where the paper's printing press was sited alongside an administrative suite. The newspaper moved in the early 2000s to Carn industrial estate in Craigavon where it is now printed as part of the NationalWorld group.
Church of Ireland House at Donegall Street, beside St Anne's cathedral, was opened and dedicated at a ceremony by Bishop Gordon McMullan, as bishop of Down and Dromore, and Bishop James Moore, bishop of Connor, in September 1996, after purchase and major renovation by the two dioceses, financially assisted by the CoI Representative Church Body and the Department of the Environment. Church organisations located at the building for the past 27 years have been: diocese of Connor administrative staff; diocese of Down and Dromore administrative staff; Church of Ireland board of education for NI; church safeguarding office for NI; Church of Ireland youth department, and the Church of Ireland press office. Meeting room space was also provided at the four-storey building, as well as library facilities.
After vacating Donegall St on August 1, the Connor and Down and Dromore dioceses have moved to Channel Wharf, Unit 1, 21 Old Channel Road, Belfast, BT3 9DE. The church's press office is now at 18, Hill Street, in Belfast's cathedral quarter.
• The Church of Ireland, being an all-Ireland faith denomination, has its headquarters in Dublin, from where the overall church is administered, overseeing the 11 dioceses that cover Northern Ireland and the Republic