Leeds Minster

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Leeds Minster
Minster and Parish Church of St Peter-at-Leeds
The Minster and Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds
53°47′42″N 1°32′10″W / 53.79500°N 1.53611°W / 53.79500; -1.53611Coordinates: 53°47′42″N 1°32′10″W / 53.79500°N 1.53611°W / 53.79500; -1.53611
Country  Great Britain
Denomination Church of England
Churchmanship Liberal Catholic
Website www.leedsminster.org
Dedication St Peter
Bells 12 + flat 6th
Tenor bell weight 40 long cwt 1 qr 27 lb (4,535 lb or 2,057 kg)
Parish Leeds City
Deanery Allerton
Archdeaconry Leeds
Episcopal area Leeds
Diocese Leeds
Province York
Rector The Revd Canon Tony Bundock
Asst Curate(s) The Revd Hannah Smith
Reader(s) Canon Ann Nicholl
Organist/Director of music Simon Lindley FRCO DUniv
Organist(s) David Houlder FRCO
Verger Iain Howell

Leeds Minster, or the Minster and Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds, (formerly Leeds Parish Church), in Leeds, West Yorkshire is a large Church of England foundation of major architectural and liturgical significance. A church is recorded on the site as early as the 7th century, although the present structure is a Gothic Revival one, dating from the mid-19th century. It is dedicated to Saint Peter and was the Parish Church of Leeds before becoming a Minster in 2012. It has been designated a grade I listed building by English Heritage.


An early 7th-century church on this site was burned down in 633 AD. A church at Ledes is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The church was rebuilt twice, after a fire in the 14th century, and again in the 19th century. Walter Farquhar Hook, Vicar of Leeds from 1837 until preferment as Dean of Chichester in 1859 was responsible for the construction of the present building, and of the revitalisation of the Anglican church throughout Leeds as a whole. The architect was Robert Dennis Chantrell.

It was originally intended only to remodel the church in order to provide space for a larger congregation. In November 1837 a scheme was approved under which the tower would have been moved from the crossing to the north side, the chancel widened to the same breadth as the nave, and the north aisle roof raised. When work began, however, it was discovered that much of the structure was in a perilous condition, and it was decided to replace the church completely.[1] The new building was the largest new church in England built since Sir Christopher Wren's St Paul's Cathedral erected after the Great Fire of London and consecrated in 1707. The new parish church was rebuilt by voluntary contributions from the townspeople at a cost of over £29,000 and consecrated on 2 September 1841.[2] Florence Nightingale and Dr Edward Bouverie Pusey were among the congregation and Dr Samuel Sebastian Wesley played the organ.

The east end was altered between 1870 and 1880.[3]

The parish church became Leeds Minster in a ceremony on Sunday 2 September 2012, on the 171st anniversary of the consecration of the building.[4][5]


Cruciform in plan, the minster is built in ashlar stone with slate roofs,[3] in an imitation of the English Gothic style of the late 14th century, a period of transition from the Decorated to the Perpendicular. The church is 180 feet (55 m) long and 86 feet (26 m) wide, its tower rising to 139 feet (42 m). The chancel and nave each have four bays of equal length with clerestories and tall aisles.[2] The tower is situated at the centre of north aisle. Below the tower on the north side is the main entrance. The tower has four unequal stages with panelled sides and corner buttresses terminating in crocketed turrets with openwork battlements and crocketted pinnacles. The clock was made by Potts of Leeds.[3]

Furnishings, fittings, glass and treasures[edit]

The North face of the church

The windows exhibit Perpendicular tracery and there is a five-light east window from 1846 containing glass collected on the continent. The east end the sanctuary has a marble arcade with mosaics by Salviati of Venice and the reredos are made of coloured marble and alabaster by George Edmund Street.[3]

A peal of 13 bells was cast by Mears in 1842. These bells were then recast into the current peal by John Taylor of Loughborough in 1932. The tenor bell weighs 40 long cwt 1 qr 27 lb (4,535 lb or 2,057 kg).[6]

The organ, parts of which date from 1841 and earlier, is essentially a Harrison and Harrison of 1914 vintage, but incorporating significant amounts of pipework by Edmund Schulze. It was restored in 1927 and 1949 by Harrison and Harrison; in 1965 by Wood, Wordsworth and in 1997 by Andrew Carter. The restoration of the blowing plant and refurbishment of the blower house were undertaken in 1997 by Allfab Engineering of Methley.

Among many artefacts and memorials in the Minster are an Anglian cross to the South of the marble pavement known as the altar flat and a brass commemorating Captain Oates of Scott's Antarctic expedition, who had Leeds connections. Flemish stained glass enhances the apse of Chantrell's interior - he designed the windows to fit the glass - and of more recent date (1997) is Sally Scott's Angel Screen at the north tower porch entrance -an example of contemporary glass engraving and gift from the family of Lord Marshall of Leeds.


Interior of the Parish Church.

The Minster and Parish Church of Saint Peter-at-Leeds is in the Anglican Diocese of West Yorkshire and The Dales (which has its cathedrals at Ripon, Wakefield and Bradford), in the Parish of Leeds City along with the Georgian Church of Holy Trinity, Boar Lane and the congregation of St Mary's Lincoln Green worshipping weekly in the Hall of St Peter's Church of England Primary School, Cromwell Street, Burmantofts. The minster is at the easternmost extremity of the city centre, within a precinct bordering two of the city's oldest thoroughfares - Kirkgate (now part of the Inner City Loop Road) to the north, and The Calls to the south. Another ancient pathway, High Court Ings, connects the western precinct with High Court.

The rector, the third since the establishment of the Parish of Leeds City in 1990, is the Reverend Canon Tony Bundock. Work with young people undertaken by the parish includes The Market Place drop-in centre.[7] St Peter's Church of England Primary School, Burmantofts where the chaplain is the lay minister to St Mary, Lincoln Green and Holy Trinity, Boar Lane, Canon Ann Nicholl.

During choir terms there are at least seven choral services each week, four sung by the boy choristers with the choral scholars and lay Clerks; the remainder sung by the boys, the men or by the girl choristers. Once each term, the boys, girls and men sing together.

Leeds Minster is a member of the Greater Churches Group. Its mission and vision for future service to the city, the diocese and the Church of England are a constant care and concern of those who seek to serve the church and parish. Sir John Betjeman in a BBC Broadcast remarked that: "There's High Church, Low Church and Leeds Parish Church".[citation needed]

The church is illuminated at night by floodlights donated by Tetley's brewery.

The building is open to visitors for at least seven hours each day. Parishioner volunteers serve refreshments and light meals in the refectory in the City of Leeds Room constructed in the north-west aisle in 1975.

The minster archives are held at the Leeds office of West Yorkshire Archive Service. The church has memorials to families who were prominent in the parish, including the Kitchingman, Fenton, Lodge, Milner, Cookson, and Ibbetsons.[8]


On 2 September 2012 Leeds Parish Church became a minster;[9] it may be designated the pro-cathedral of the new Diocese of Leeds if the diocesan bishop so decides.[10] The Rector of Leeds, The Reverend Canon Tony Bundock has announced his retirement; his last Sunday at the Minster will be 12 October 2014.[citation needed] He moves to the Diocese of Oxford to take up a house-for-duty post at the end of October.[citation needed]

Vicars of Leeds from 1220 and Rectors of Leeds from 1991[edit]

This list is incomplete


Stained glass window depicting St Peter.

Leeds Minster is the only parochial foundation in England without a resident choir school to have a programme of weekday choral services additional to Sunday liturgies.[11]

Organists from 1842 include Samuel Sebastian Wesley 1842–1849, Dr Edward Bairstow 1906–1913, Dr Alfred Melville Cook 1937–1956 and Dr Donald Hunt OBE 1957–1975. Organist and Master of the Music, in office since 1975, the ninth musical incumbent since Wesley's day, is Dr Simon Lindley who came to Leeds after service at St Albans Cathedral and churches in the City of London; Lindley is the organist at Leeds Town Hall. He is chairman of the Ecclesiastical Music Trust in his capacity as a director of the English Hymnal Company and President of the Campaign for the Traditional Cathedral Choir. The sub-organist and director of the girls' choir is David Houlder, formerly of Liverpool Cathedral and for a long period director of music at the Bluecoat School.

In Autumn 2009, Ashley Francis Roy began work as animateur for Chorister Outreach in two primary schools near the minster; the post was supported by the Church Urban Fund. Boy choristers attend church each weekday except Thursday, Friday evenings, Saturday mornings and twice on Sundays. Boy choristers attend St Peter's C of E Primary School in Burmantofts, Abbey Grange Church of England Academy, Cardinal Heenan Roman Catholic High School, Brudenell Primary School and Whingate Primary School. This work was continued by Helen Strange, an undergraduate student of the University of Leeds who also served as leader of the minster girls' choir.

The adult choir consists of lay clerks (including former boy choristers), choral scholars (undergraduates from the University of Leeds and Leeds College of Music) and supernumerary singers - altos, tenors and basses. During term time, Evensong is sung by the full choir on Wednesday and Friday evenings, by the boys on Monday and the men on Thursday. A semi-professional adult chamber choir, Saint Peter's Singers of Leeds was founded in 1977 and meets for rehearsals on Sunday evening during term time and present regular concerts and sing at choral services each season including at the end of each summer term, a memorial evensong for John Barrie Hanson - a member of the singers and choir.

The minster choir has been associated with the Royal School of Church Music since the early 1930s through links with Sir Sydney Nicholson, RSCM founder and churchwarden, Herbert Bacon Smith. Simon Lindley is one of the RSCM's longest serving special commissioners and has directed RSCM courses on four continents. The girls' choir formed in 1997 by Jonathan Lilley, meet weekly on Saturdays (regularly singing for Morning Worship) and participate in events involving the full choral foundation on special occasions.

Organ Concerts[edit]

Friday lunchtime organ recitals are held weekly between September and July featuring David Houlder, Dr Christopher Newton and Simon Lindley, Sunday evening concerts by Dr Lindley have taken place weekly in August since the restoration of the instrument was completed.


Samuel Sebastian Wesley 200th Anniversary Celebrations[edit]

The 200th anniversary celebrations for Samuel Sebastian Wesley, born 14 August 1810, began with Festal Evensong on Sunday 4 July 2010 followed by a Gala Choral Recital. Worship on Sunday 15 August was broadcast on BBC Radio Four. Dr Lindley gave a commemorative recital of Wesley's organ music in the evening and a commemorative recital of music by Wesley at Leeds Town Hall on 13 September.

Rugby league[edit]

A rugby league team from Leeds Parish Church joined the Northern Rugby Football Union (now Rugby Football League) in 1896. Leeds Parish Church played for five seasons from 1896–97 to 1900–01 after which it withdrew.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Introduction". The seven sermons preached at the consecration and re-opening of the parish church of Leeds, with an introduction. Leeds: T.W. Green. 1841. pp. iv–xi. 
  2. ^ a b "An extract from "The Annals of Yorkshire", published in 1862". GENUKI. Retrieved 26 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d English Heritage. "Parish Church of St Peter (1375046)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 26 June 2011. 
  4. ^ "Leeds Parish church has become a minster". BBC News. 2 September 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Special ceremony in honour of Leeds Parish Church’s new minster title". Yorkshire Evening Post. 3 September 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "Leeds, S Peter". Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Market Place". Retrieved 8 May 2008. 
  8. ^ Benfield, Chris (26 November 2007). "New Book Explores Church's Hidden History". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Leeds Parish Church to become Minster". BBC News (BBC). 20 February 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "The Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield Reorganisation Scheme 2013". Dioceses Commission. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  11. ^ "Leeds Parish Church: History". Archived from the original on 18 January 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]