Sunday, 15 September 2013

Heritage Open Days - 2013

Apart from visiting the Leeds Grand Theatre (see separate post), I took the opportunity to visit two East Leeds churches near to where I live.  Both churches opened its doors as part of Heritage Open Days which ran over the second week in September.

I'm proud of the heritage in this country and also like to support the Open Days every year.  There is usually a lot of heritage gems on our doorsteps and usually free to visit.  There is no need to travel far and wide to visit specific 'heritage buildings'.

St Wilfred's Church

This Anglican church was built in 1939 and designed by Randall Wells. Intensive refurbishment including a new roof took place recently and completed in August 2013.  What I loved about the church is the natural lighting and spacing which are reflected in the by the high stainless windows. 

Inside St Wilfred's Church, East Leeds

The interior features such as the impressive woodwork shown in the chancel, the seating and choir stalls.  The curtail compliments nicely with the chancel's woodwork.  There were some furnishings and paintings such as St Wilfred's statue by Eric Gill and sculptures from Irene Payne.

I had the initial impression that it was an older church than what it is with its wooden spire which I've been seeing on daily basis whilst out and about in East Leeds.  The spire reminds me of the churches I've seen in Scandinavia. I enjoyed my visit to this interesting church.

St Mary's Parish Church

The following morning I visited St Mary's Parish Church.  It was my first time inside the Anglican church even if I've passed it many times on my travels.  I was glad to have had the opportunity to look inside.  The Grade I listed Medieval Church was built in the 15th Century although it was suggested an earlier church, a Saxon one, was built.  However there is no evidence confirming this even if there was a discovery of a Saxon font on the site.

St Mary's had connections with the Irwin family, who then owned the Temple Newsam Estate, and John Smeaton who is known as the 'Father of civil engineering'.  There are memorials in honour of the Irwin Family, Sir Arthur Ingram and Frances Isabelle Heir Gordon.  The highlight must have been looking at Smeaton's memorial.  I remember studying about him in my Humanities degree and also climbed up Smeaton Tower (originally known as Eddystone Lighthouse) in Plymouth.   His involvement in the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions from the end of the 18th Century was recognised and he was a regular worshiper at the church.

 Smeaton's Memorial and Grave Stone, St Mary's Parish Church

I enjoyed looking round the church.  The church has undergone a number of restorations, spanning over the past three centuries.  The restorations included essential repairs and the restoration of the organ at the southside of the church.  It was lovely hearing music being played by the organist whilst I was looking around.  I learnt how important the church's Lychgate is with it being dedicated to those in the Parish who served in both World Wars.

Inside St Mary's Church

Thanks to the warm welcome and friendliness to the church's hosts.  With their helpful and insightful knowledge, I got to appreciate the cultural, religious and social history of the church and the key people involved.

If you require further information about future Heritage Open Days please visit their website.

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