East Leeds Churches Visit

11th May 2013

An enticing list of churches, which are usually locked, drew 21 to this tour. We gathered for coffee at St Matthew’s, Chapel Allerton for an early start. This is the only remaining church in Leeds designed by GF Bodley and built in 1879. This church has a fine re-ordered chancel, as well as screen, organ case and waggon roof by Bodley.

We left our cars and were taken by coach to St Martin’s, Potternewton, built in the Decorated style by Leeds architects Adams & Kelly in 1881. The interior of this church was vibrant and glorious as was their welcome to us. The 1903 wall paintings in the chancel, the ornate choir stalls, the foliated nave capitals and stone pulpit were all outstanding.

St Martin's Church, Potter Newton

St Martin’s Church, Potter Newton

Our next church was St Aidan’s, Harehills completed in 1894 and famous for the Brangwyn mosaic in the apse. We found much more to interest us, with everything on a huge scale and reminiscent of Ravenna churches. The monumental organ by JJ Binns is stunning and the casework equally special, designed by the church architect Crawford-Hick of Newcastle in the Italian Renaissance style, also the pulpit, made of Caen stone supported by Italian marble columns. The font was made in Newcastle of onyx, and green, blue and red marble, and not surprisingly is the largest in Leeds-the bowl weighs a ton and a half.

On to St Saviour’s Richmond Hill, a church paid for by Pusey as a beacon of the Oxford Movement in the 1840s, with a lovely reredos by Bodley in an ornate chancel with screen. We enjoyed the superb windows designed by Pugin and the Morris school, before having an excellent lunch in the parish room.

St Saviour's Richmond Hill

St Saviour’s Church, Richmond Hill

Corpus Christi Osmondthorpe was our only non-Anglican church. This large classical style building with Byzantine influences was built for a French order in 1962 and is now part of the Roman Catholic parish dedicated to Henry Newman. Sumptuous marble columns and a copy of Murillo’s Assumption in the west window were outstanding. Concerts are held regularly taking advantage of the excellent acoustics.

Next to St Wilfrid’s Halton , built in 1939 which was undergoing building work and has received a grant from YHCT. We were pleased to see our logo on the board outside. An outstanding example of the Arts & Crafts movement, it is light and uncluttered and we all hope to revisit when it is finished. Large expanses of clear glass allow light to flood the interior.

St Wilfrid Halton

St Wilfrid’s Church, Halton

Finally to the church of the Epiphany,Gipton where the austere outside gave way to a bright interior with steps leading to the chancel and windows by Christopher Webb. A friendly group gave us tea and cakes in this church inspired by Coutances Cathedral in Normandy and a significant avant-garde design, built in 1936.

A thank you to Malcolm Warburton and David Quick for arranging this special day which was stimulating and surprising in the styles of churches we visited.


By Jane Hedley