It is unknown who built the church, but what is known for sure is that Daniel Newcombe — who was appointed rector — and William Etty were involved in some of its design. A plaque marking its Grade I listed building status credits Etty as the designer. In its early years, the building was also home to the Select Vestrymen — in effect the town council — and the library and the mechanical fire pump.
The church is no longer in use for worship, having closed in 1988, and is now owned by the Churches Conservation Trust. It is also used by Sunderland Old Township Heritage Society, the Donnison School, the and the communities of Hendon and Old Sunderland during "Heritage Days".
1712 — Local merchants campaign for a new church to be built.
1719 — First recorded baptisms, of Primus Barwick and Mary Whiton, on July 25.